When Ed Garcia, managing director of Firestone Tire and Rubber Liberia, learned an employee’s wife had caught Ebola, he decided to act.
“There was no facility that could accommodate her,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “So we quickly realized that we had to handle the situation ourselves.”
Acting quickly, and using information it found on the Internet, Firestone set to work. Volunteer health workers established a treatment center to isolate victims. They donned hazmat suits, usually reserved for chemical spills, to protect themselves when treating patients. They explained safe burial procedures for Ebola victims and mobilized local teachers to distribute information to the community. Although the first patient died, no one else — including her family and the people who cared for her and transported her — caught the virus.
Firestone is not the only private company taking on Ebola. Members of the Ebola Private Sector Mobilization Group have pledged their resources to respond to the crisis.
“Many of them [the companies] have thousands of trained personnel,” consultant Riva Levinson told All Africa. “Attaching these resources to the global deployment against Ebola can help bend the curve of the virus’s spread away from the worst-case projection.”