Arbel Cohen, an EMT at the MDA 101 dispatch center, has not stopped giving help and support since the war broke out. At any given moment he is assisting people. Yesterday while an air raid siren went off at the MDA dispatch center he felt it was time to write down some of his thoughts and feelings.
“I woke up early on Shabbat, the 7th of October. It was 5:00 AM and I was traveling through the quiet streets of the Shmuel Hanavi neighborhood on the way to my shift at MDA national headquarters. The roads were very peaceful.
In the middle of the highway I began to receive notifications about Red Alerts in the south and as soon as I entered the Headquarters in Kiryat Ono air raid sirens started in the central Israel.
I don’t remember the moment I realized what is really happening. I just remember hundreds of red flag symbols flashing on our map indicating emergency sites. I remember the calls from first responders fighting for the lives of the casualties they were treating.
I remember the broadcasts, the emergency notifications, the injured first responder, the shot ambulance, the helplessness.
The knowledge of what will be with the people on the other end of the line, the knowledge that you have no way of helping them, no way to assist them.
The noise, the chaos, the screams, the alarms, the ringing phones, the beeping pagers.
I remember the silence hours later, when I rode around the south of the country. Empty streets, darkened homes, shuttered windows.
City after city, neighborhood after neighborhood, the silence of fear, the smell of death. I remember it all.
Bomb explosions, gunshots, bodies lying by the roadsides, the injured soldier with a bleeding gunshot wound, and another soldier, and another. Groans of pain and anguish, cold sweat, the noise of the departing helicopter, the fear, the relentless pounding of my heart.
I think about my friends, my partners. My colleagues, those that fell, those that were injured, physically and emotionally.
I think of the look in their eyes, of them drying their tears, biting their lips. Through the phone lines, behind the screens, in the ambulances charging towards their missions, responding to every call with everything they have. I stand in awe of them.
The volunteers that serve under me, with me, who give everything and fight for each and every one, in their own way. Who help, support, embrace and show up every time. Who don’t sleep, who run to every location, to help, to treat.
Who save lives.
The road ahead of us is long and there is so much work still to be done. Another air raid siren just went off. Now we can leave the protected area again and keep fighting. Take care of yourselves and stay safe. And remember, in any medical emergency we are here. Together we