Operation GRITROCK (Sierra Leone 2014 (1))

International Operation Name: Operation GRITROCK

International Operation Dates: 2014/09/08 – 2015/11/13

Mandating Organization: Government of Great Britain

Region Name: Africa

Location: Sierra Leone

Canadian Operation Name: (Sierra Leone 2014 (I))

Canadian Operation Dates: 2014/10/03 – 2014/10/09

Mission Mandate:

To support British efforts at fighting the Ebola virus outbreak in Sierra Leone.

Mission Notes:

In December 2013, a young boy died in the village of Méliandou in Guinea, West Africa. Soon thereafter his mother, sister, grandmother, a village mid-wife and a nurse all died of similar symptoms. Nobody recognized that they had died of the Ebola virus, and by the time they did it had spread through large parts of West Africa and even abroad.

The outbreak was first identified in March 2014 but it was only on 8 August that the World Health Organization declared this a public health emergency. Médecins Sans Frontières and other non-governmental organizations were active in treating victims; however, by this time the current Ebola outbreak had caused more deaths and infected more victims than all previous Ebola outbreaks combined.

Sierra Leone was one of the worst hit nations for Ebola, with over 11,000 cases being reported. Great Britain, which had a long-standing military relationship with Sierra Leone, prepared to provide assistance, funding hospital beds and preparing a military medical response under the name Operation GRITROCK, which was to provide a medical centre, the Kerry Town Treatment Unit (KTTU) in Kerry Town, Sierra Leone, 50 kilometres south of the capital of Freetown. The operation would provide treatment and care facilities for health care workers infected by the virus as well as training facilities for local medical practitioners.

The effort to set up this facility required augmentation from outside countries. The Royal Canadian Air Force responded by providing a CC-177 Globemaster aircraft to airlift equipment to Freetown, Sierra Leone. Two such flights were made, one on 3 October and one on 8 October.

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