My life before the 117 was studying at Fourah Bay College (University of Sierra Leone). While in my third year I was requited as hotline operator during the Ebola crisis in my country (Sierra Leone). I was just a student without a job or anything besides academic activity. Initially, I was serving as a hotline operator, receiving calls from the public with detailed information regarding the person(s) that is either sick or dead. If the caller(s) is staying with the sick or corpse in the same household I would advise him not to have any contact with the person regardless of the relationship, because he or she too would get infected. I have to ensure that details including address, phone number, location of the community, age, sex, names/contacts of immediately family members and stakeholders are also collected. Thereafter, I logged this information into the computer system and I sent it to the dispatchers who then sent the message to the response teams, who would send vehicles to collect the person and send them to the Treatment Centers. I was later transferred to the callback unit where I was charged with the responsibility of calling all those that have contacted 117 before to confirm if their needs are addressed.
The best lesson I’ve learnt is to patient with people, because there are some annoying callers that call just to abuse/insult us, some callers do not understand what 117 is exactly doing, some still believes that we collect the corpse or sick persons, which is not true at all. There are also prank calls that interrupt our job but we need to exercise patience with them. The most powerful moment of my experience I had was while working with 117 when my sister’s husband, a doctor (the head of the hospital), was infected with the Ebola Virus in one of the hospitals called the “Stick” in the outcast (Waterloo) of Freetown. I was the person that directly received the call to collect a Doctor that is sick, and I was too shocked after receiving that call. I was stressed and confused for the rest of the day, but I later sum-up courage to inform my boss about the incident and she was able to help with Ambulance to collect the patient. This is the saddest moment/experience I’ve ever had in my work with 117.
My hope is to see Ebola come to an end and to see Sierra Leoneans living a stable life after this Ebola crisis.