By Rebekkah Karp, current participant on Netzer Year
As part of her experiences on Netzer Year, Rebekkah had the opportunity to spend two months training and volunteering with Magen David Adom (the Israeli Red Cross) while living in the city of Karmiel.
I ate fast food or a chocolate sandwich for lunch nearly everyday, I drank an average of four cups of coffee everyday, I walked to and from work everyday (yes, there’s an uphill both ways) – sometimes even in the rain. I yelled at my roommates to keep it down when I had to go to sleep way earlier than them. I once spent five hours watching MTV (it sounds like fun at first, but I’m positive I lost about 10 IQ points that day). I only understood about half of what was said. I worked long hours for no pay and got many self-injuries in the process.
Would I do it again?
Without a doubt. Actually, I am doing it again (provided I get parental permission). Why? Call me crazy (and you’d be right to do so), but I love it.
I had three CPR events, all successful field saves. I had two mass casualty events: a massive car crash and a bus crash. I had many CVAs and chest pains and head aches and shortnesses of breath. I had broken bones and hysteria and hyperventilation and cancer and infections. I had a lot of coffee.
I got to know the drivers and paramedics and the bosses and volunteers and the cleaning lady. I’ve made such good friends that I know I will come back to visit them. Walking away from the drama of my small flat of nine people into the station filled with the guys whose only drama is ‘who has to clean the suction’ saved my sanity.
From making origami to having pillow fights, from attempting to learn Arabic to actually understanding Hebrew, from eating humuus to suctioning humuus like substances from people’s tracheas, from fighting over the chair by the heater to racing to get the best bed for the Lailah shift, from krav maga to kickboxing, I love the MDA station. As much as I complain, I love the times we spend doing nothing at the station, waiting around for nesiyot. I love the calls. I love getting to explore (and sometimes getting lost in) the hospitals. I love getting food on the way back to the station.
There’s something about it that’s really truly amazing. Something real and fun and down to earth and, dare I say, magical about it all.
I saw and experienced things I will never forget. There were hard times and things that were tough to deal with. Once, I was with my team preforming CPR, when the paramedic came in and told us to stop, that the family didn’t want us to continue, and he had tears running down his face when he said it. But we’ve also had calls that have made me really appreciative. My driver making a balloon out of a glove, drawing a face on it, and giving it to a little girl who was scared and crying, for example.
The care and compassion I saw from the MDA workers and volunteers were astounding. These big tough guys who fought over the TV remote and wrestled with each other could be so sweet and kind hearted. Everyone, from the girl who crashed her car while driving to the older man having chest pain, was treated with extreme care to the best of the medic’s abilities. They held back from no one, raced to every call, and saved lives using the best of their skills, even at 3 am.
When I remember my favorite moments from the time I spent volunteering with MDA, I can’t just pick one. Was it running past that burning car, carrying a backboard and neck brace during that huge car crash? Was it holding that girl’s hand and seeing the relief it gave her? Was it hearing “‘yesh la/lo dofek” (There’s is/isn’t a heartbeat) those three times? It could have been those, or one of a million other experiences I have had.
These have been some of the best times I’ve ever had, and being a volunteer in MDA has been an experience I will never forget.