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What It Was Like Being An EMT In Israel

Few people would let college students in charge of taking care of a life, let alone their plants. What program would possibly allow an unqualified student fresh out of their first year of college take blood pressure and measure pulse? In the absurd chance that there was something out there that existed, I would be the first one to gawk at it. That is why I had never thought a college student like me would get the chance to be an EMT in a country where I didn’t even speak the language. It took a few days to let the idea sink in and make it a potential summer plan, but after turning the idea over a few times, I was set on the possibility. Although cautious, my mom was not letting me stay at home, procrastinating, when I could be going on a once in a lifetime trip like this. Her encouragement and my willingness to take on this adventure got me through the long application process and pile of clearance forms needed to get on the ambulance.


The thought of actually saving lives and wearing a uniform didn’t actually hit me until I walked into the ambulance for the first time. I quickly learned the name of the game, and memorized where all the equipment was located in the compartments. It was a lot of work in such little time, and then I was sent out to the field. I was in charge of a city called Haifa. Speeding through the city streets and sharp corners at 140 km/h. The drivers lived for the adrenaline rush.


Indeed, it was crazy at times, no lie, but I hadn’t had a doubt in what I was doing was out of the ordinary. I faked it till I made it. And I faked it every day that I was out on the field. That’s the name of the game really. If you wear that uniform, you’re likely to have lots of people looking at you. That means things will be expected of you, and you should know how best to handle any situation that comes towards you.


One of the most valuable lessons I learned while out on the field was don’t pretend like you know something when you really don’t. You’ll see, in times of great emergency, information is valuable and can’t be misconstrued. If you can’t hear the beat of the diastolic heartbeat to measure blood pressure, then don’t give a false reading. It’s hard to go back after overestimating a heartbeat because the patient’s life depends on it.


There was a lot of gory scenes that I witnessed, and can’t unsee. There were really good days and really sad ones. They didn’t always come in pairs. That’s the thing about healthcare, you never know who’s going to get sick. Every day can be a new scenario. What I told newcomers was it wasn’t worth expecting to get out of the shift on time because you will most likely go over with whatever your last call ends up being. Deaths were rare, but very prevalent. Nothing was more jarring than seeing a dead body, and every time I did, I had to prep myself the same way. Convince myself it was a natural way of life, and that it just looked like they were sleeping. No big deal, and walk into the house or the crime scene.

Nica is a Senior at Williams College majoring in Biology and taking pre-medical courses. She is a member of Ritmo Latino and GQ A cappella. Her passions include public health, reading, and yoga.
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