UK and NZ Paramedics arrive in Gaza

before our surprise call out

Kathleen and Gillian are paramedics who work on emergency ambulances in England and New Zealand respectively. Both have previously been involved in human rights work at home and abroad, including the West Bank. In true Defend The Rescuers spirit they have arranged sabbaticals, covered their own expenses, then fundraised to bring medical kit in person to their fellow rescuers in Gaza, arriving March 9th.

They will be regularly blogging while they are there, and are now accepting donations to help cover translation and incidental costs for the training they hope to deliver to local  medics whose access to skills updates is severely limited by the siege. Here is one of their first blog posts below – visit Paramedics in Gaza to become a follower and receive their news as they post…

Paramedics in Gaza: Waiting for something

We went to bed last night unsure as to what the situation would be today and had an uneasy sleep. Fortunately we awoke to news that while there had been airstrike retaliations by Israeli military overnight, no casualties had been reported. The situation has remained calmish throughout the day, although it appears that people are preparing for the worst.

next time we'll remember to write a list

donations get catalogued: next time we’ll remember to write a list

Our day has been busy. We had the total honour of handing over a donation of medical supplies to the director of the Red Crescent in Gaza, Dr Khaleel Abu Alfol. The supplies included two complete ‘response bags’ (/ jump packs) for ambulances and a stack of miscellaneous hospital kit including stethoscopes, sphygmomanometers, ET tubes, airway adjuncts, forceps, bag valve masks, suture kits,  thermometers and suctioning equipment. While it wasn’t a huge amount, we had managed to bring in equipment which is currently unavailable in Gaza; including suction handles and universal suction tubing which appeared to impress Dr Khaleel and his staff. These medical supplies will be shared through multiple departments in Al Quds hospital and will undoubtedly go to good use. At least one of the response bags will be used in an EMT training course which is beginning in a week or so. Massive thanks again to everyone who donated! We still have a stack of gear which will be shared with other organisations.

After drinking our fill of coffee we were sent off by Dr Khaleel for a tour of the nearby Red Crescent central ambulance station. We sat down for tea and an orientation with the station boss, going over their paperwork systems (essentially the same as in our own respective services) and getting to poke our heads in the dispatch room (two phones, one laptop). Then we were sent outside with a crew to have a look at an ambulance and their kit. Or at least we thought that’s what we were doing. Next thing we’re told to hurry up and jump in and we’re off under lights to a job.

getting a tour of the ambulance

getting a tour of the ambulance

This was the perfect balance of equal parts random and awesome. Although the unit was stood down en-route it was really just incredible to get the opportunity to talk to the crew, one of whom has been in the job for 29 years (and is jokingly described as ‘The Mayor’). These guys work under such unimaginable circumstances and see the true horror of the conflict up close and personal every day they go to work. They are renowned for putting themselves in harms way to save the lives of countless civilians and are experts at what they do. They are true EMS professionals and absolute champs and they were siked to show us around the ambulance, their gear cupboards and patiently teach us how to work their stretcher. It was really reassuring to see how much overlap there is between our services and how familiar alot of stuff was; from equipment to the prehospital paper trail. Really looking forward to working with these guys more and we have a heap to learn from them. We left after another cup of tea and promises to visit them at home for dinner and more ambo chats.

There’s a lot of speculation and rumour as to what’s going to happen next. Some think that a major attack is imminent, or will occur when the weather improves. Alternatively, we just saw this article  saying that a ceasefire had been announced, promptly followed by this one saying it was over.  Like everyone else here we’ll wait and see what plays out. In case of a major event an ambulance will be sent to collect us from our apartment and we’ll join Red Crescent crews on the road. I really hope for everyone who is trapped in the enclave that it doesn’t come to that.

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