Nursing Graduate Joel Broeckelmann was assigned to leave for Liberia last September following President Obama’s swift response to address the Ebola crisis in West Africa. Broeckelmann, originally based out of Langley, had only a few days to prepare for his trip to Africa before boarding the C-17 aircraft with 33 other airmen. Joel and his team were tasked with the responsibility of setting up a 25 bed Expeditionary Medical Support System Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia.
The focus of the team was to set up a tent hospital that could be used to treat international health care professionals who contracted the feared virus. While the EMEDS team was not allowed to come into direct contact with the patients, the setting up of facilities allowed US health care professionals to administer treatment to afflicted patients on time.
Broeckelman, an alumnus of University of Missouri, spoke about his role as a nurse during his trip to Liberia. He said, “The basis of the Health Response Team is that we can pretty much deploy anywhere in the world on short notice, and set up an EMEDS field hospital. Within 72 hours of our arrival on the site in Monrovia, we assembled the tent hospital and began populating it with supplies and equipment.”
Apart from installing a fully operational emergency department with the necessary laboratory equipment and 3 patient wards, the team was also required to train healthcare professionals who were assigned to take over upon their departure. Broeckelman spent 3 weeks in Liberia before returning to the states and was kept under observation for another 3 weeks once he was back stateside.
During his stay in the third world country, Broeckelmann spoke about the resilience of the Liberian people and how the nation’s poverty had created a deep impact on him. He added that if given the opportunity, he would volunteer to go back for a period of 6 to 8 months. Broeckelman currently lives in Virginia with his wife Krista, who is also a nursing graduate and their nine month old son Charles.