Swords Of Iron

258th day of fighting

The heroes of the 7th of October are revealed – Moti Shuv – head of the volunteers at Ashkelon MDA station

7/10 - Testimony, Moti Shuv, a volunteer paramedic and head of the volunteers at Ashkelon.

The heroes of the 7th of October are revealed and this time, Moti Shuv, a volunteer paramedic and head of the volunteers at Ashkelon MDA station who treated the victims under fire and when the treatment was over, helped collect the bodies from the terrible massacre.

On Shabbat, my wife and I were at home, sleeping. Around 6:20 we heard explosions. I woke up from it. I thought to myself that maybe it was our training or even theirs, but it’s strange that they train on Shabbat. I tried to go back to sleep and after a few minutes the alarms started. They sounded endlessly. There’s no safe room in our house, so we went down to the stairwell. I turned on my cell phone. We could hear the rocket falls.

We are religious, so I didn’t get into the news, but my wife who’s an EMT, and I took the first response bags, ran together to the car so we could drive to help, and waited for instructions from the dispatch center. When we went outside we saw a pillar of smoke in front of us, nearby. I called the first responders’ dispatch and gave a report. We went to search the site and there were no physical injuries, but the apartment caught fire. We helped extinguish the fire.

It was difficult to get to the car and start driving, there were a lot of alarms, each time we stopped, entered a sheltered area or lay down on the floor to protect ourselves. In the end we managed to get to the station to take an ambulance. We went to Kochav Michael where we treated the wounded who were rescued from Sderot and surrounding communities. We evacuated a moderately injured male from there, the security officer of Kibbutz Gevim, who was hit by three bullets in the knee, hip and calf.

After that we took care of the woman in labor and when we left the hospital a van arrived there with 5 bodies, 2 adults, a woman and two children. We helped and lowered them to the floor, on a sheet, put them in pathology. After them came another vehicle, from the IDF Medical Corps, also with a mountain of corpses inside. We stayed there to help take them down, put them in white bags. By the end of the day, I think we treated over 80 bodies with their last respects, along with Zaka.

I have been volunteering at MDA for 20 years, right from Hanukkah 2003, and in addition, I have been a Zaka volunteer for the past 17 years. Emergency medicine is almost my whole life. Over the years I was in the MDA more than not, whether as a paramedic or in the IDF reserves. I taught courses to EMTs, doctors, they prepare you to treat a multi-casualty incident, how to function under fire, and there is no doubt that this training helped.

The truth is, we didn’t know clearly what was going on either, because on Saturday we didn’t turn on the radio and I opened the phone only to communicate with the dispatch. I didn’t know there were so many casualties until we arrived at Barzilai Hospital and saw the number of wounded, and also the number of bodies.

On a regular weekday there are 2 intensive care units on duty in Ashkelon and 3 more regular ambulances. Two days later we had 34 manned vehicles – 26 regulars and another 8 MICUs, staffed either by reservists from MDA’s unit, or by volunteers. Until now, every weekend I’m on call with a MICU at home. And if an ambulance driver comes along with me just in case, he will drive and I will sit in the back for evacuation and that’s how we man a further, on-call ambulance.

The experience of 20 years in the system, on the front line, is an experience that gives you the tools to deal with an event you have not yet encountered. Even when you think you’ve seen it all, something will always come up that you haven’t seen yet, and even if it’s been a while since you’ve used a certain protocol, experience and knowledge give you the composure to deal with a new situation.

The real hero is my wife. Unlike me, she hasn’t seen too many dead people, in MDA usually when you see someone dead it’s during CPR on a very old person. The situation is not the same situation, the sights are different and the feelings are different. It’s hard to get out of her the two children she saw, the burned woman. These are the only things she saw. I’ve seen hundreds this week. It’s hard for her. She’s the hero here, she overcame and together we both lowered the murdered from a van onto a white sheet, and gave them their last respects.

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