CBSN

Volunteer medic heads to Ebola hot zone to help

A Northern California man is headed into one of the most dangerous and deadly places in the world on a humanitarian mission to help Ebola patients in Liberia.

Davis Perkins told his story to CBS San Francisco reporter Mike Sugerman. On Tuesday, Perkins was busy packing and getting ready to depart on a six week deployment to Liberia with the organization Heart to Heart International.

Perkins has a long history of heading into danger zones to help those in need. He's been a paramedic, a firefighting smokejumper, and a volunteer medic whose work has taken him around the globe to countries including Haiti, Ethiopia and Cambodia.

"They just called me a couple of nights ago and asked if I could go, so we are racing around to get ready," Perkins said.

For the first week, Perkins will go through training to learn how to put on the necessary protective suit and safely use the latest equipment in Ebola treatment. Villages like the one where he'll be working have seen a 70 percent or greater fatality rate from the disease.

Health care workers are at heightened risk of contracting Ebola, which is spread through infected bodily fluids, since they are in such close contact with very sick patients. More than 400 health care workers in West Africa have contracted Ebola since the outbreak began, and more than half of them have died.

But those statistics are not deterring Perkins from doing what he can to help.

"He's got a strong heart. He's got what he calls rescue bones. It came from something we've talked about for a long time. Strong heart, strong back," his wife Crystal Wright said.

Perkins is expected to return before Christmas, possibly to some kind of quarantine period in his home.