Grady paramedics describe transporting Ebola patients

by: Richard Elliot Updated:

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ATLANTA —

The Grady Hospital emergency medical services paramedics who transported both American Ebola virus patients from Dobbins Air Reserve Base to Emory University Hospital said the mission was simply routine and went off without a hitch.

Gail Stallings and John Arevalo volunteered for the Grady EMS Special Operations Unit that transports infectious patients on a regular basis. Stallings said the strangest part for them was seeing all the national and international media attention directed at them. 

"It was just part of our job and part of our daily thing," said Stallings. "So to see all the cameras and all the attention has been very, very strange for us."

Stallings drove the ambulance when they delivered Dr. Kent Brantly to Emory Saturday. Only Arevalo rode in the back because Brantly could walk under his own power. But both of them rode in the back for the transport of Nancy Writebol since she couldn't walk and needed a stretcher.

"Everything was routine," said Arevalo. "The only difference was that I was wearing protective gear. The patient was wearing protective gear. We had a protective blanket over her."

When they wheeled Writebol into the hospital and into Emory's special isolation unit, she was not only wearing a protective suit, Stallings and Arevalo wrapped her in another layer of impermeable material to keep the general public safe.

"Once she was on the stretcher, we have an impermeable sheet that we use kind of like a cocoon," said Stallings. "It's just a third layer of protection against any kind of exposure which is our biggest concern."

Because of privacy laws, they could not discuss anything about Writebol's medical condition during transport. They did say she engaged in small talk with them as they drove to Emory.

"It went very smoothly," Stallings said. "Just like we trained for it."