In 2014, America and the world was shaken by news of the deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
What many did not know, is that Steve McAndrew, Santa Monica resident and Head of Emergency Operations for the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), is one of those who stepped up to battle this disease in Sierra Leone.
McAndrew returned home to Santa Monica recently to share his story about the IFRC’s Ebola response in Sierra Leone and educate the community about the epidemic. One of his first stops was the Rotary Club of Santa Monica, a long- time community partner of the Santa Monica Bay Red Cross.
“I was never afraid of contracting Ebola,” McAndrew stated calmly. McAndrew told the audience of more than 40 Rotarians at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel that the steps in combating Ebola are simple, but the protocols must be enforced.
“Information is the best way to stop the spread of this disease,” he said. “You have to inform and educate the public on the steps to take to avoid contracting Ebola. The better educated you are, the less you fear the disease.”
McAndrew spent six months spearheading operations to combat this deadly disease by coordinating the efforts of hundreds of international volunteers, as well as thousands of local Red Cross volunteers to stop the spread of Ebola.
Julie Thomas, executive director, American Red Cross Santa Monica Bay Chapter, and several volunteers attended the talk, where Thomas introduced the speaker.
In opening remarks, Thomas commented, “The Rotary Club – just like the Red Cross – has a global presence, so the Santa Monica Rotary is a perfect partner to share information about the Red Cross’ humanitarian work here and worldwide.”
This Ebola outbreak is the largest in history and has affected more than 23,000 people to date. The epidemic hit the hardest in West Africa, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
By the time Steve McAndrew left West Africa, the number of new cases had dropped dramatically in comparison to the situation in August, but there is still no known cure for Ebola and the need continues.
As of January 9, 2015, the American Red Cross has raised nearly $5.6 million to support Ebola relief efforts in the affected West African countries. The global Red Cross network has deployed more than 200 international staff to the region since March 2014 and has trained approximately 6,000 local volunteers to respond to the Ebola outbreak.
To learn more about how the American Red Cross relief efforts in West Africa or to donate, please visit http://www.redcross.org/ebolaoutbreak.