UK Paramedic in Gaza: What I’ve been up to so far

Originally posted at Paramedics in Gaza

I’ve been in Gaza for nearly six weeks now, and I’ve largely found my feet. I plan my days around when there will be electricity, know when I’m being overcharged in a taxi and can drink 3 cups of sugary tea without getting the shakes. Countless meetings are finally paying off, and possibilities for work beyond observing are beginning to appear. This week I taught a First Aid session in the remote Bedouin community in the north, which I hope to repeat. Next week I’m teaching a basic trauma First Aid course for the Palestine Trauma Centre who sponsored us to come to Gaza. I’m particularly looking forward to it as the folks at the PTC have been so welcoming and do amazing work.

Beyond that, I’m working with the Ministry of Health to develop a training around ambulance pre-alerts to the Emergency Department, and making a presentation on the use of communications equipment in the UK ambulance service for their managers. They’re looking to develop in this area, despite the blockade on GPS and most communications equipment. The time I’ve spent here and conversations I’ve had increasingly point to equipment and economic limitations as the biggest issue for the health service here, rather than any lack of knowledge or ambition. Even when the present situation makes maintaining any service at all very difficult, there is an awareness of service improvement and a desire to plan for the future. I certainly don’t envy the managers here their jobs – it makes the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) look relaxed and over-resourced. Which is saying something.

I’m also meeting with the Red Crescent ambulance service to plan some work with them.

There have been previous paramedic delegations to Gaza, and international ambulance accompaniers during times of war. As far as I’m aware however, there have been no previous international paramedic volunteers working with the ambulance services. This has made everything fairly slow and difficult, as you might expect, but it seems like things are finally working out and I’m really excited to meet more with them and see what possibilities there are for the next few weeks and the future.

Beyond that, the end of my time in Gaza is in sight. The thought of leaving is fairly heart-wrenching, especially when all the paperwork and meetings are finally starting to result in positive opportunities.  However, it’s impossible to be here as an international without one eye on the wider situation and general safety. Various changes on a personal and larger political level mean that leaving in early May is sensible, so that is my plan. Until then, I hope to work hard, lay foundations for the future, conduct more interviews and also eat as much falafel as possible. Thank you for reading and sharing this blog. There is so much more to write, and I hope to make the most of the next few weeks.

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