Martha Phillips knows exactly how it feels to suddenly find oneself up close to — and unprotected from — a deadly virus.
In 2014, Phillips, an emergency room nurse, was at the bedside of a suspected Ebola patient in Sierra Leone when the disposable plastic guard protecting her face came loose.
“I turned my head quickly and my shield came off,” she recounted. “So I am in an Ebola treatment unit and my eyes are completely exposed.” She stayed calm and quickly left the room.
Phillips, 35 at the time, had arrived in a rural corner of northwestern Sierra Leone just as Ebola cases were surging in West Africa.
One day, early on, more than 50 patients flooded into their hospital — a collection of abandoned classrooms that had been converted into treatment units. She and other nurses worked into the night, until they ran out of supplies.