by: Richard Elliot Updated:ATLANTA —
Grady Hospital EMS Interim Director Wade Miles was driving an SUV directly behind the ambulance carrying American Ebola patient Dr. Kent Brantly as they transported him from Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Cobb County to Emory University Hospital in DeKalb.
“My main concern was just keeping vehicles away from the ambulance,” said Miles. “Making sure nobody cut in between us, just giving the driver the space she needed to get the patient to Emory safely.”
The transport went off without any problems as the convoy pulled into Emory, and Brantly walked out of the ambulance and into the hospital under his own power. A Grady paramedic, in special protective gear, guided him inside.
“We take great care in protecting our team members, our paramedics,” Miles said. “We wear special suits, and on top of that, we wear a PAPR, powered air purifying respirator, and just put that over our head and turn it on. It gives us fresh air. That way nothing can touch us. No skin exposure at all.”
Miles gave Channel 2 Action News a look at the ambulance used to transport Brantly and will be used to transport the second American Ebola patient, Nancy Writebol, when she arrives for treatment at Emory.
“We use these special sheets, similar to what you would see in an OR, and we drape the sides, the floor (of the ambulance),” Miles said. “We completely encapsulate this little area right here where the patient and the paramedic can sit. If there’s any coughing, blood, vomit or anything that gets out of the patient, it would get onto the sheets, and it makes it easier to clean up, and it makes it so we don’t have to worry about getting blood or something inside the cabinets. It makes it much easier to clean the hard surfaces.”
Miles said his paramedics train two or three times a year to handle potentially contagious patients, and added Grady EMS often transports patients with diseases far more contagious than Ebola.
“We’ve been training for this mission for 12-years,” said Miles. “We started this team 12 years ago. We rehearse this annually, sometimes twice a year with Emory. This didn’t freak us out.”
Miles said his team will be ready for the next Ebola transport, which could happen as soon as Tuesday.