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Cornish Hospital Ship Sets Sail For Ebola Zone

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2:42pm 17th October 2014
(Updated 2:42pm 17th October 2014)

Cornwall is put on the frontline of the battle with ebola.

RFA Argus is setting sail from Falmouth - packed with medical supplies to help fight the killer disease.

Onboard are Cornish aircrews, sailors and Plymouth marines.

Pirate FM has been given special access to the hospital ship before it departs on Friday lunchtime.

Everyone on board will be given a medical questionnaire every time they return to the ship, checking for contamination.

Captain David Eagles from Hatt in south east Cornwall is in charge. He said: "Any personnel returning onboard Argus, having been deployed ashore, will be given a medical questionnaire to fill in. Question one of that is: 'Have you had any contact with the local population?'

"They'll be very closely screened and monitored onboard - temperature monitored - all those sorts of things.

"It is always theoretically possible that one of our team operating onshore could come into contact, but our education process has stressed how to avoid that. But, yes, in the worst case - we'll be ready."

Part of the reason the ship was selected was the landing area - enabling three Merlin helicopters to operate in the disease-hit country.

Commander Ross Spooner from Culdrose is in charge of the aircraft. He said: "Having the aviation element is pretty much vital to the mission, with the state of the country as it is and the limited infrastructure it has.

"So providing the ability to both establish and more importantly to sustain the life support requirements like food, water etc. that's where the aircraft will come into their own.

"Nobody is going to underplay the nervousness that people have in terms of the mission - certainly with the sensationalised headlines. But there is a sense we are off to do a tangible and worthwhile task in Sierra Leone - there is that nervousness.

2:42pm 17th October 2014

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