By Esther Pamensky

In the wake of the horrific Hamas attack in southern Israel, I found myself right in the thick of things as a United Hatzalah volunteer EMT who was volunteered to go from Jerusalem to take part in the medical response down south. The situation was intense, as you can imagine.

We’re shadowing a special forces unit of the IDF, working with them to treat the injured as they are brought out to us. We have been responding to an incredible number of injuries. Gunshots ring out, often close to us, and we have to take cover in or behind the ambulance. The heat is also intense.

We are dealing with casualties from the shootouts between the IDF and infiltrating terrorists while witnessing terrorists being arrested left and right. It is a full-blown war zone out here.

Amidst all this, there’s this vivid image that stuck with me – a young soldier, not a day over 19, navigating the chaos with just one shoe, no sock, and a banged-up foot. I had to check in on him and find out what was going on. Turns out he got injured in the foot and yesterday was just a mad rush with his unit that left him no time to get treated properly. If I hadn’t stopped him, he might’ve ended up in the hospital with a bad infection.

So, we just changed his bandage and one of our ambulance teams prepared to take him to the hospital so he could receive antibiotics before bringing him back to the field. Before being taken by the ambulance, the soldier simply broke out in tears, overwhelmed by the situation. I told him I would hug him if I could, and my male team members hugged him for a long time. The injury was pretty minor compared to everything else we had treated, but the soldier’s lack of proper prior treatment and reaction underscored to me the gravity of the situation. He then thanked us before being whisked off to the hospital.

This is just a glimpse of the situation on the ground. We continuously pray that everyone will come back from this nightmare safe and sound.

Esther Pamensky is a United Hatzalah volunteer EMT who lives in Jerusalem.