A version of this piece was originally published on EbolaDiaries.com.
What kind of people volunteer to fight the Ebola crisis in West Africa? People like Audrey Rangel, an Ebola treatment unit nurse from California.
“I always wanted to do disaster relief work. The crisis started to take off. It was in the news a lot. People were talking about it. So I went online. I saw a position for an Ebola response nurse. To me it was just the right time. The description just kind of fit me. I was speaking with my husband and I was saying I can’t not do this … They need people,” she said.
The Bong County Ebola treatment unit where Audrey is stationed is a 4-hour bumpy journey from Monrovia. Bong has some of the highest rates of infection after Lofa and Montserrado Counties.
Their two ambulances drive for hours every day to pick-up patients in remote locations like Bong Mines, an iron ore mining town, where they picked-up 18- year-old Cephas after his father carried him on his back for an hour to a location where the ambulance could reach him.
Audrey’s days are spent on the front lines, suiting up in protective gear and caring for patients like Cephas. Even as she roots for survivors, she admits that its easy to get attached to her patients: “For some reason you’re sad to see them go.”
“It’s turned out to be an amazing amazing experience. I wouldn’t take it back for anything. I guess you can say it exceeded my non-expectations,” says Audrey.
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