While the World Waits
“In the centre, people groan and cry out - the smell of blood, diarrhea and vomit is awful - unfortunately there is also a very pervading smell of dead bodies. I can only leave it to your imagination to understand what a pile of bodies smells like after a week in very hot, moist surroundings - it makes you feel sick quite a lot of the time.”
Cokie van der Velde - Foreign Aid Worker (Liberia)
Apologies in advance to the squeamish…
It starts mildly enough, a cough, a fever, joint and muscle aches, a sore throat, general weakness and a loss of appetite...so common are the symptoms that its often mistaken for a simple case of the flu. But this is just the beginning...
The progression is terrifyingly fast. Within a couple days the later stages of the disease begin to manifest themselves. As it attacks the entire body, victims experience extreme suffering. Fevers, chest pain and nausea quickly turn to horrific skin rashes, paralyzing headaches, confusion, seizures, and bloody vomitus. Then comes the internal bleeding. Many patients bleed from almost every orifice in the body - including their mouth, nose, gums and any recent puncture or injection mark as the the disease essentially liquefies their organs. Ultimately, the organs fail completely, the body shuts down and victims suffer cardiovascular failure and death.
Ebola is frighteningly easy to transmit through the bodily fluids of an infected animal or person. This means blood, saliva, etc, as well as any object that has come into contact with those things — like needles, bedsheets and toilets.
There are no known drugs to prevent or cure the Ebola Virus. You’re either die, or you fight it off. The only thing that can be done is to support the body’s fight by providing intensive constant rehydration. Mortality rates are as high as 90%.
But this really isn’t about Ebola...
Literally, as I write this post, the first of three thousand US military personnel are stepping onto a hot, humid tarmac in Liberia, West Africa. Mercenaries in the latest global, humanitarian crisis that the CDC now estimates will infect 500,000 people by January. Our sons and daughters, husbands and wives risking their own lives to stem the tide of disease as it sweeps across a continent.
The decision to put US soldiers, advisors, physicians and support personnel in in harms way has already drawn sharp criticism from medical experts and former military brass. Retired Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin charged that sending American troops to combat Ebola in Liberia is “an absolute misuse of the U.S. military.” Dr. Jane Orient, executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons called the planned U.S. deployment a “dubious mission,” warning that the nightmarish scenario could bring Ebola to America.
I understand the concerns and frankly, I agree in part with the statements above, I’m just not sure that we have a choice nor do we have the luxury of waiting for the global community to respond. Right or wrong the United States has always taken the lead when it comes to questions of moral obligation and humanity.
If not us then who? As with most global crisis the rest of the world appears to merely be observers standing on the sidelines. Where are the Russians, Chinese, Koreans, Germans, French, British, Saudi’s, Iranians etc? I’ll tell you where, waiting for Us, America to step up to the latest global catastrophe, natural disaster, biological or terror threat and then criticize our involvement or the manner in which we accomplish that mission.
How telling and tragic were the words of Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Wednesday when she said “she hoped US President Barack Obama's decision to send three thousand troops to West Africa to battle the worst Ebola outbreak on record would spur other countries to help.” Hoped it would spur other countries to help? Why have we come to accept this as the norm for international action or more appropriately non-action?
This of course is nothing new. For the past 20 years we have been the first country to provide resources, personnel or aid for nearly every significant humanitarian event to face the planet. Sadly, it’s also become common for us to be chastised for inserting ourselves into the affairs of foreign countries and then expected to come running when the world sounds the distress signal.
Even our “enemies” in the Middle East (read Iran and Syria) are now pleading for our assistance to control the advance of ISIS and modern day genocide. And yet still we are required to build a global coalition to facilitate and justify our actions. Really, a global coalition to stomp out evil?
Listen, I’m certainly not blind to the fact that as a country we may at times overreach in our desire to operate as the worlds safety net or that every action has an equal but opposite reaction. But I also believe that as Americans and as a country we’re defined by what we do in moments of great adversity, tragedy and potential peril. Polarizing moments that exemplify what this country stands for and serve as a model for the rest of the world.
We were born for these moments, forged from the fires of hardship and sharpened by courage, sacrifice and boundless determination. And while we may differ on the chosen path we share a common belief that every life matters.
A belief that makes me unapologetically proud to be American.
-By Scott Seymour
About Scott Seymour
The son of an avid outdoorsman and early waterman, Scott Seymour was born into an adventurous lifestyle. Having spent most of his formative years along the remote beaches of Baja California and the dusty backroads of nearly every mountain range on the western edge of North America he understands what its like to live off the beaten path and on the road less travelled. Those early years were spent diving, surfing, fishing, mountaineering, exploring, prospecting and getting lost and found literally and figuratively on a regular basis. While an atypical childhood it may have been, it forged an adventurous spirit and a thirst for life that has continued to guide him through adulthood.
As a collegiate volleyball player at UCLA, Scott developed a passion for teamwork and helping others meet their maximum potential. He went on to build a successful career leading and managing highly efficient sales teams for various national and global organizations. In 2008, feeling that familiar yearning for adventure he made a career 180 and for the past several years has worked as a bail and recovery agent in Southern California. Scott is also a registered EMT and first responder and will be starting the fire academy in January of this year with the goal of becoming a paramedic.
A self proclaimed “gear junkie” Scott can still be found most days researching and testing new equipment and strategies while stand up paddling, surfing or exploring the coastlines of Southern California or Mexico.
He resides in San Clemente with his wife and two junior watermen.