At the request of the French government, the French Red Cross has recently opened a treatment center with 60 beds to fight the spread of the virus in the Macenta region in south east Guinea, to relieve the other centers in the country, which are already saturated.
Guillaume Cubizolles, aged 33, can boast 12 years of experience with Veolia and 10 years of volunteering for Veoliaforce, including several missions in China and Haiti. He spent three weeks in Macenta, at the heart of the epidemic. According to Guillaume:
You departed for an area affected by an epidemic which is receiving a lot of media attention…
G.C: I did not know any more about Ebola than the average person in the street. My training with the Red Cross was therefore very worthwhile. I found out that this disease is less contagious than many other diseases as it is not airborne. I learned which rules I needed to comply with in Guinea: no physical contact, only drink safe water. To cut a long story short, I learned to differentiate between media psychosis and actual danger.
You left to install a specific water network. Can you tell us how it went?
G.C: To begin with, working with the members of the Red Cross who I joined, we checked that our plans did indeed match the situation on the ground. In these types of circumstances, you need to forget everything you've learned in the past and deal with what is actually feasible here and now. The Red Cross managed to find tanks, pumps and hoses in the region, but some components had to be brought in from Conakry, the capital.
Days at the worksite could last from 8 o'clock in the morning to midnight. This was necessary because we needed to install three water networks, each with different chlorine concentrations, to cover all of the requirements of the Centre as defined by Doctors without Borders, the customer. The networks were commissioned the day before I left, mid-November, and the first patients were treated by the center shortly afterwards.
In terms of safety, which different stages apply when you enter an area with an epidemic?
G.C: The only instruction given is to take your temperature twice daily to detect any anomaly. But honestly, my only fear was to catch a cold and be feverish and automatically placed in quarantine when I knew that I hadn't taken any risks.