Local News

Ebola takes Wake Tech educator back to Africa

Posted October 15, 2014 10:46 p.m. EDT
Updated October 16, 2014 11:33 a.m. EDT

— Lee Wittman became a paramedic due to his experiences in Africa, and now he’s heading back to the continent to help control an international health crisis.

During the early 1990s, Wittman was working for the Peace Corps in a remote village in Ghana when he contracted malaria and rheumatic fever.

Dangerously ill, he traveled for days to receive treatment.

“It was the only time in my life I thought I was going to die,” he said. “There were people who did not make it because of a lack of emergency services.”

The experience inspired Wittman to become a paramedic once returning to the United States.

Now a paramedic instructor at Wake Technical Community College, Wittman will head to Angola on Thursday, along with three ambulances and medical supplies, to help the country prevent the spread of Ebola within its borders. The country currently does not have any Ebola cases. 

The virus has resulted in nearly 9,000 cases and more than 4,000 deaths in the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Senegal. Angola is not bordered by either of the affected countries.

Wittman will train doctors, nurses and ambulance drivers while in Angola. The trip and the supplies are being paid for by the Angolan government.

Wittman made a similar journey to Ghana in 2007. He plans to use his trip to Angola as a teaching experience for his students.

He sees the journey as a way of giving back for what was given to him more than two decades ago – life-saving expertise.

"I became a paramedic because of my experience in Africa," he said.