ARMY reservist Corporal Katie Pritchard will forego family festivities to spend Christmas treating health workers suffering from the deadly Ebola virus.
Corporal Pritchard, 25, of Agbrigg, Wakefield, works as an intensive care nurse at Pinderfields Hospital. She is one of 17 reservists due to deploy to Sierra Leone shortly, following intensive medical training at a Yorkshire military base.
The Army has not told her how long she will be out there.
Corporal Pritchard, whose Army unit is based at Strensall, York, said her family had been supportive as they knew it was something that she had wanted to do.
She is putting Christmas festivities on hold, but she plans to have a family get-together when she returns to the UK early next year.
Yesterday she admitted to feeling “nervous but excited” as she prepared to travel with other part-time soldiers to a treatment unit in Kerrytown, Sierra Leone.
She said the training, which involves drills in personal protection suits and decontamination, had been “good”. But she admitted: “Until I get out there, I don’t know what to expect.”
She added training has involved “a lot of learning around disease prevention control” and the use of protective gear including helmet, visor, gloves and apron. Army personnel have been learning how to safely take off the protective gear in a simulated environment with higher temperatures.
Corporal Pritchard, whose parents live in Derbyshire, will work at a 12-bed unit which treats healthcare workers who have contracted Ebola to ensure they have the best chance of surviving. She is a member of 306 Hospital Support Medical Regiment and while in Sierra Leone will be working alongside colleagues from 22 Field Hospital.
An Army spokeswoman said the reservists had been taught “the rigorous decontamination procedures as well as how to recognise the symptoms of the disease”.