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Ebola scare: Man with flu symptoms from Africa gets emergency response

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BERKELEY, MO (KTVI) - First responders is Berkeley are breathing a sigh of relief, after a sick call that had some thinking “Ebola” proved to be only a man with a cold.

The call came at about 8:30am Wednesday from Flight Safety International. The firm, located off of Natural Bridge, trains pilots who come to them from all over the world.

The patient, identified as “a client” by operations manager David Glass, said he wasn’t feeling well when he arrived. This might normally have been handled with a trip to Walgreens, but the client is from somewhere in western Africa, which raised concerns.

Eventually paramedics were called in, and police say they were very cautious in handling the situation.

“Christian ambulance responded and I’m told they did speak to him through a door because they did have him isolated in a room,” Berkeley Police Chief Frank McCall said. “They had a conversation with him, came back out, and put on protective gear. Then they went back up to the best of my knowledge and treated him or communicated more so with him.”

Health department officials say the man was evaluated at the scene and did not have to go to the hospital. He has a cold.

What the incident did provide was a real world “dress rehearsal” for first responders who have been preparing for a possible ebola case. Just the same, it was not the kind of call Chief McCall was expecting.

“A lot of things go through my mind,” he said. “But the end result is you hope when it’s all said and done that first we’ll call it a false alarm. You also realize that this is the flu season , so you try to lean toward that in hopes that that’s all that’s going on.”

A spokesman for Christian Hospital, owners of the ambulance that responded, would not comment about how the call went or whether procedures previously instituted were helpful. All they would say is, with the flu season settling in, we may see more such cases.