ONE OF Sunderland’s largest employers has played a key role in the UK’s response to the deadly Ebola crisis.
Grundfos was asked by the Royal Air Force to produce 18 water boosters to provide safe, clean water supplies for three vital treatment centres in Sierra Leone, an area badly affected by the outbreak.
Workers at the Castletown-based pump manufacturer worked against the clock to turn out the boosters in record time, producing the numbers needed in only five days.
Mark Lister, operations manager at the site, said: “An order like that would normally take four weeks, but we managed to beat the deadline we were set by the company sourcing components on behalf of the RAF.
“People worked extra hours and stayed late to get the work done – we obviously realised how important it was. Our German and Hungarian colleagues helped us out by sending parts we needed by airfreight.
“I was really proud of our response and the people who produced the units in such a short time. A couple of days after we got the order there was a piece on the BBC news about how bad things were and that 40 NHS workers had just flown out to Sierra Leone, that just brought home to me how real it was. There is a huge sense of urgency to get these treatment centres built as the disease still isn’t under control.
“Obviously there is a need that the centres’ water supplies are guaranteed and pure and that is where Grundfos has stepped in.
“We’ve sent out six Hydro Multi E boosters to support systems in each of the centres that are capable of looking after high chlorine, low chlorine and raw water. The boosters have been flown out to be fitted into treatment centres being built under the direction of the RAF in Moyamba, Makeno and Port Loko.
Lee Carlin, general manager for Grundfos, said: “This has been a real team effort and I’m proud of the way Grundfos as a company has responded and hopefully the boosters can play a role in halting the progress of this terrible disease.”
So far this year, more than 6,000 people have been killed by the virus in West Africa and more than 13,000 have been infected.
Ebola has claimed nearly 1,000 people in Sierra Leone alone.
The treatment centres are part of the UK’s £125m contribution to the fight against Ebola, which includes the deployment of RFA Argus, a military vessel with a fully equipped 100-bed hospital on board.
The ship has been loaded at Falmouth in preparation for deployment to Sierra Leone this week.
In total 750 Ministry of Defence personnel will be sent to Sierra Leone to co-ordinate relief efforts and support treatment centres, which will offer 700 beds to up to 8,800 patients.
More than 600 NHS staff have already volunteered to join the aid mission.