A PARAMEDIC from Littlehampton has told of his time helping to fight the Ebola epidemic in Africa.
Chris Williams, 58, of Timberleys, was one of the medical staff who bravely volunteered to step into the firing line and tackle the disease, which has killed almost 8,000 worldwide.
Chris, who works at Worthing Hospital, spent a total of six weeks in Sierra Leone, returning to the UK little more than a week ago.
Speaking of the horrors he faced overseas, he said: “To be a patient with Ebola is quite dehumanising. Without making it sound too grim, it’s an absolutely awful disease.
“The patient is vomiting and is dehydrated. They are bleeding from their backsides, blood is coming out their nose and eyes and ears – it’s a vile disease.
“It can quite distressing to see someone going through all this, especially if they’re a child.”
Ebola is spread by direct contact with contaminated body fluids. Blood, vomit and saliva can all carry and spread the deadly virus.
The father-of-three, who also has five stepchildren, was forced to wear a protective suit while helping to treat sufferers of the disease.
However, he could only wear this for an hour at a time, as temperatures in the Africa country often shot up to 30 degrees.
“It was exhausting,” he said. “When you came out of the suit you’d literally have a cup full of water in your boots from all the sweat.”
Chris celebrated both his birthday and Christmas while working out in the crisis centre.
He admitted it was hard because he could not get to be with his family.
“It’s certainly going to be a birthday I won’t ever forget,” he added.
Explaining why he joined the humanitarian effort, Chris said: “I felt something needed to be done. It’s all well watching it on the tele but this is something I knew I could do and something I knew I could help with. I just had to do it.”
Chris returned to the UK on January 18.
Since arriving home, he has been forced to monitor his temperature twice a day, which he needs to do for a total of three weeks before he can return to work.
Thankfully, he is showing no symptoms of the virus.
He added: “The whole thing has been really rewarding and I’ve had great support from my family.”