In May 2015, after a torturous battle with the most-deadliest outbreak of Ebola for 14 months, Liberians were finally able to dance in the streets after being officially declared Ebola-free, and this was all thanks to the gallant men and women, including health workers and then, of course, Saah Joseph.
The popular legislator from Montserrado County joined the front line of the fight against Ebola, having already imported six second-hand ambulances from the U.S. He recruited a team of drivers and then took Ebola patients to hospital and treatment units.
At times, he drove the ambulances himself, relieving the suffering of patients or suspected ones by taking them to Ebola centers to be treated. Indeed, the relentless politician became the lifeline for victims of the disease considering the inadequate health facilities in the West African nation, which counted only a dozen ambulances at the time. These private and government ambulances were mostly just cars or trucks having makeshift sirens, according to a report.
And that was largely why Joseph imported his first six ambulances from central California in February, paying $10,000 for the delivery of the first two and getting $20,000 assistance from another legislator for the others.
His ambulances were to originally serve his constituents in New Georgia suffering common illnesses, but then Ebola struck in six weeks after the ambulances hit the streets of Monrovia. Soon, Joseph and his medical team became one of the first responders on the Ebola frontline, facing the virus at a time many were confused and scared.
With his personal mobile number pasted on his ambulances, his phone buzzed many times in a day by people with Ebola-like symptoms seeking help. As of October 2014, Joseph and his team had transported 3,000 patients, including Ebola dead bodies to the cemetery or crematorium.
By the time Liberians won the war against the disease, Joseph had earned the deserved title of “Ebola Hero” and been recognised by top government officials including then-President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
“You and your team braved the storm when doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers, as well as our citizens, were dying in their numbers. “You are a true hero of our country,” Sirleaf said of the patriotic politician at the time.
Joseph did not only save lives in his home country but in Sierra Leone as well, turning his attention to the country when it also went through an Ebola crisis. Media reports indicated that Joseph liaised with the Liberian government to send several ambulances and other equipment to help fight the virus in the neighbouring West African country.