Accommodating Ebola responders in two tented base camps

Living in IHP Base Camp Port Loko and Moyamba allows for more than 160 Ebola responders to concentrate on fighting Ebola while IHP caters for Ebola safe accommodation as well as food and water supply, internet connectivity and other facility services.

Three weeks into the IHP Ebola response (mid October 2015) it was clear that living conditions of incoming responders to be deployed to areas outside of the capital Freetown was a challenge. The number of appropriate hotels and guesthouses did not meet the required minimum level of safety and security. Appropriate accommodation was also lacking for staff working in the Ebola Treatment Centres, whereas two were established by the UK Department for International Development (DFID). Therefore DFID requested IHP to establish and manage two fully self-sufficient tented base camp facilities to accommodate health staff working in the nearby Ebola Treatment Centres (ETC). One base camp was established in Port Loko, a 2.5 hour drive northeast of Freetown. The other in Moyamba, a 4 hour drive east of Freetown.

The IHP Base Camp Port Loko was initially established to accommodate 84 Ebola responders working in and around Port Loko, mainly staff working at the nearby ETC run by the Irish Non-Governmental Organization GOAL, but also other Ebola responders. Due to the high demand for accommodation in Port Loko, the capacity was after a few weeks extended to 108 guests. The facilities were established and managed by a Camp Manager from the IHP lead agency Danish Emergency Management Agency (DEMA), with a team of technicians and other support staff from DEMA and Crisis Management Centre Finland (CMC). IHP funding is provided by DFID, ASS LUX and DEMA.

The IHP Base Camp in Moyamba was established to accommodate 60 Ebola responders working in and around Moyamba - mainly staff working at the nearby ETC run by the Non-Governmental Organization Medicins du Monde (MdM) Spain. The facilities were established and managed by a Camp Manager from the lead agency Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection and Emergency Planning (DSB), reinforced by technicians and other support staff from DSB, Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB), Crisis Management Centre Finland (CMC), and Estonian Rescue Board (ERB). Satellite equipment was provided and managed by Luxembourg Rescue Services Agency (ASS LUX). IHP funding was provided by DFID, DSB, and ASS LUX.

The two IHP Base Camps are equipped with generators to provide 24/7 power supply, wells and water purification systems to be able to supply safe drinking water, satellite systems to ensure internet connectivity, a kitchen to provide meals and sanitary facilities. The base camp also enables staff to work from the facilities through the establishment of an outdoor meeting room and internet connection.

“The IHP services enables the teams to recharge in-between long and hot shifts at the Ebola Treatment Centres, in the field, or elsewhere the fight against Ebola takes them”- says, the IHP team Leader.

Guests are accommodated in private cabins tents, with 6 cabins in each tent. The cabins are equipped with a bed, bed linen, mosquito net, a metal box to store belongings in, and electricity for a lamp and not least for charging mobile phones, tablets, computers etc. The guests of the base camps are provided three meals a day in the canteen, or the option of getting a prepared lunch box. An outdoor relaxation area with coffee bar, television and barbeque area cares for staff to relax after long working hours. 

As local health services are limited and stretched, the base camps have well-equipped extended first aid capacity with staff available 24/7. In addition, staff suffering from Ebola or other spreadable illnesses and diseases can be isolated and treated in the Ebola Observation Units (EOU) to avoid spread to guests in the base camps. The Ebola Observation Units are equipped with a bed, chair, table etc. as well as toilet and washing facilities and Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for staff assisting the patient. This makes it possible to host and assist an Ebola suspected guest or staff member until a test shows whether or not the he or she has Ebola; after which the patient either is transferred for supportive Ebola treatment or released. The Ebola Observation Units are equipped to decontaminate staff assisting the Ebola suspected patient, to avoid any spread of Ebola virus should the patient have Ebola.

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