Information for Families and Loved Ones of Responders
Is a family member or loved one going to West Africa to work as an Ebola responder? Learn more about information and resources that can assist both you and your loved one during his or her deployment.
- Remind your family member to pack travel medications, documents, and equipment
- Develop a plan for when your family member is away (paying bills, child care, elder care, pet care)
- Have a communication plan
- Get contact information in advance
- Create a plan for regular communication (email, text, or call every other day)
- Be prepared for times when your family member will be out of reach
- If you haven’t heard from your family member and are concerned, contact the organization your family works for
- Talk about feelings of anxiety, excitement, apprehension–yours or your family member’s
- Discuss updating important personal documents (wills, powers-of-attorney)
While your family member is away
Your family member may experience
- 12-18 hour work days in areas that may not have power, internet, or cell phone service
- Fatigue, depression, feelings of failure (not able to “do enough”)
- Sickness (traveler’s diarrhea, minor infections, colds, sore throat)
- Work in very difficult conditions, especially out in the field and rural areas
- Work with local colleagues who are dealing with Ebola-related deaths of family members and other loved ones
How you can help
Encourage healthy behaviors. Remind your family member to take care of him/herself by
- Getting enough rest and eating properly
- Speaking with their in-country assigned buddy or other team members
- Taking their anti-malaria pills
- Using personal infection prevention and avoiding situations that cause them to feel uncomfortable or unsafe
When your family member returns
Your family member will
- Receive a medical screening/health evaluation at the airport of entry
- Be required to keep a health log and take their temperature twice a day for 21 days
- Be contacted by the state or local health department to report temperature and health status daily for 21 days
- Be able to return to work as long as they do not have a fever or other signs of illness
- Possibly experience fatigue, depression, feelings of failure (not able to “do enough”)
- Be sleep-deprived and have jet lag
How you can help
- Treat your family member just as you did before they deployed. As long as your loved one does not have a fever and is not showing signs of sickness, you or your family are not at risk for infection.
- Remind your family member to follow up with the state or local health department and to check and report their temperature.
- If your family member does get sick during their 21-day follow-up period, do not panic. Sickness may be caused by many things other than Ebola, including colds or other viruses picked up overseas or on the trip home.
- Encourage your family member to take time off to re-adjust and reconnect with family.
- Prepare yourself to answer lots of questions from other family members and friends.
- Have Family or Friends in Countries with Cases of Ebola? Here’s How You Can Help
- Advice for Humanitarian Aid Workers
- Pack Smart: Travel Health Kit
- US Embassy
- Department of State: Air Ambulance/MedEvac/Medical Escort Providers
- Safety Training Course for Healthcare Workers Going to Africa
- Resources for Parents, Schools, and Pediatric Healthcare Professionals
- Page last reviewed: April 22, 2015
- Page last updated: April 22, 2015
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