Norwich paramedic heads to Africa to fight ebola

Dale Gedge, a paramedic with the EEAST is heading to Sierra Leone to join the ebola fight.

Dale Gedge, a paramedic with the EEAST is heading to Sierra Leone to join the ebola fight. - Credit: EEAST

A Norfolk paramedic has spoken of his hopes and fears as he prepares to join the fight against the ebola epidemic in west Africa.

Dale Gedge, who has worked for the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) for the last seven years, is set to fly to Sierra Leone on December 6th.

The 31-year-old from Norwich put his name forward in September to join a UK government-led response to the deadly virus, which has killed more than 5,000 people in west Africa.

The paramedic, who begins training for the UK-Med organised mission next week, said he was looking forward to the challenge over the next eight weeks, but was also anxious about what he will face when he reaches Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone.

Mr Gedge, who will be working overseas during Christmas and New Year, will join a team of paramedics, nurses and doctors working in one of the country's Ebola Treatment Centres in Freetown.

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The former Aylsham High School pupil said his volunteering work would be very different to his day job because of the temperatures and the need to work in personal protective equipment.

'I saw the images in the media and as a paramedic and healthcare worker it is hard not to be shocked by the images of people lying in the streets without any help and I thought I could help.

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'We see sick children, but luckily we do not see them on a daily basis. In Freetown I am going to see a lot of sick people and sick children and we will see people die. It will be more intense.

'It is not something I have done before and I am a little apprehensive about it and being away from home that length of time, but I am also looking forward to it,' he said.

Mr Gedge, who is based at Longwater ambulance station, near Norwich, said his colleagues, family and wife, Vicky, had been very supportive of his volunteering effort.

'It is going to be a massive challenge, but now that I know I am going, I am eager to get out there.

'I think lessons have been learnt from the health care workers that have contracted Ebola. There are protocols and procedures and equipment in place to reduce the risk. There is always an element of risk in life, but UK-Med is confident that it is a risk that can be safely managed,' he said.

Mr Gedge is the latest member of staff at EEAST to join the fight against Ebola.

For the last month, clinical operations manager Pete Simpson, who is usually based at the Trust's Hellesdon office, has been working as an ambulance co-ordinator in Freetown's Ebola Command and Control Centre.

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