The so-called “mystery man” seen without protective garb during the transfer of an Ebola patient from Dallas to Atlanta Wednesday has been identified as a medical safety coordinator for the medevac company who chartered the flight.
A team of medical professionals was pictured helping Ebola patient Amber Vinson, a 29-year-old nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who contracted the disease while caring for an infected patient, onto a Phoenix Air plane to be flown from Dallas to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
News coverage showed a team dressed in hazmat suits helping Vinson out of a wheelchair and into a plane. The man was seen with a clipboard dressed in street clothes helping the team, and in close proximity to Vinson. At one point, he appeared to accept a bag from member in a hazmat suit.
Dubbed #clipboardguy on social media, many Americans showed their concern for the man who wore sunglasses, long-sleeved gray shirt, and dark pants – but no protective gear.
The general council for Georgia-based Phoenix Air told FoxNews.com that the man in question is the medical safety coordinator for the Phoenix Air Medevac team. For each flight, there are three medical team members, two of which deal with the patient and wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), and a third who acts as the safety coordinator.
The official told FoxNews.com that the safety coordinator’s role is to ensure the safety of the team, and to act as the “eyes and ears” of the crew who’s sense may be impaired by the hazmat suit.
The official said the coordinator does not have to be in PPE because he does not have direct contact with the patient. The bag that the man was seen taking from a team member in a hazmat suit likely contained medical records, according to the official.
Concern was again raised when the man was pictured boarding, and disembarking the plane while in his street clothes. According to general counsel for the company, once inside the aircraft, the patient is placed in a biohazard containment unit which has an airlock. Only members inside the unit wear protective suits, but upon exiting, leave them behind and wear street clothes.
Phoenix Air said the transfer was routine, insisting the coordinator kept proper distance from the patient and that “compression” from the telephoto lens made have made it look closer.
Vinson first went to the hospital displaying symptoms of the Ebola Tuesday morning after taking a Frontier Airlines flight from Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth on Monday night. Federal health officials are tracking down all of Vinson’s fellow passengers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Ebola is transmitted through contact with the bodily fluids of an infected patient. It can also be transmitted through objects like needles or syringes that have been contaminated with the virus, according to the CDC.
Fox News’ John Roberts contributed to this report.