FactsOfIsrael.com News, Comments and Links

<- Back to Main page

June 25, 2002
 Send to Printer    Link to this page
Israeli Paramedic cries when seeing babies burning after Palestinian homicide bombings

CNN, the Cable News Network (www.cnn.com), has published an interview with an Israeli Paramedic who had to deal with Palestinian terrorism almost on a daily basis.

Shai Shapiro, a Jerusalem paramedic for five years, has stopped counting the number of terrorist attacks he has worked. He guesses it's about 20.

Shapiro is typical of paramedics in Israel: always on call, always the first on the scene.

"The worst thing in the terror attacks, in my point of view, is to see young babies, who have done no harm," he said.

"If they are alive, shouting, burns all over their body. They are experiencing pain, very big pain. There is no stronger pain than having burns."

When he sees a baby who has been killed, he cries.

I copy the full interview below.


Terror attacks take toll on Israeli paramedics
From John Vause, CNN - June 25, 2002
http://www.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/meast/06/25/vot.terror.two/index.html

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Shai Shapiro, a Jerusalem paramedic for five years, has stopped counting the number of terrorist attacks he has worked.

He guesses it's about 20.

Driving down Jaffa Street in the heart of Jerusalem, he gives a reporter a guided tour of grim landmarks. He calls Jaffa the "horror street" because there have been six suicide bombings there in a little more than a year and a half.

"Right here is where the bus exploded," he said, pointing toward one intersection.

Farther along: "Two explosions were here." Then: "There was an explosion right here. Luckily no one was killed.

There was an explosion here as well, killing two."

Just driving on Jaffa Street makes Shapiro afraid, he said.

"You just drive as fast as you can, just to get out from this area," he said. "You remember bodies. You remember lots of dead bodies."

Shapiro is typical of paramedics in Israel: always on call, always the first on the scene.

"The worst thing in the terror attacks, in my point of view, is to see young babies, who have done no harm," he said.

"If they are alive, shouting, burns all over their body. They are experiencing pain, very big pain. There is no stronger pain than having burns."

When he sees a baby who has been killed, he cries.

"That makes me stronger," Shapiro said. "I am not ashamed of crying."

But paramedics must deal with more than the aftermath of the terrorist attacks. Often they find themselves in the firing line, attacked by stone throwers in an Arab suburb, or worse.

In some cases, the first bomb explosion isn't the last. There can be two, sometimes three blasts.

"The rule is actually not to go inside the bus, or the zone before a policeman's clearing it for us. But we cannot do it. I cannot sit and watch a young girl or someone shouting for help," Shapiro said.

Two of his team members are armed for protection.

Israeli authorities have given paramedics the option of carrying firearms, and most do. They have bulletproof vests with them wherever they go, and some of their ambulances are protected with plates of heavy armor.

'Meetings with inhumanity'

Rony Berger, a clinical psychologist with Israel's largest trauma center, said with so much stress, on such a regular basis, many of those who are first on the scene are suffering burnout. The long-term effects on the immune system are unclear.

"Those meetings with inhumanity, death -- some people call them death prints -- do stay with us for a very long time," Berger said.

There is also the impact on the families of emergency workers. Shapiro is typical of many.

"When I am finishing a shift after a terror attack ... I don't want to talk to anybody. Not my parents, not my wife, not even my little baby," he said.

Shapiro's wife, Annie, is an operating room nurse. So when there's an attack they both can be called out. The couple constantly watch the news, waiting, and their 3-year-old daughter, Noah, already has a keen sense of what is happening.

"She can feel it," Annie Shapiro said. "She knows that there is something wrong going on. And she asks, 'Mom, mom, is there any bombing again?' "

Shapiro said his daughter spends more time with her grandparents than with her father and mother.

"It is very hard to work as an EMT nowadays," he said.

Like so many others here, Shapiro said he longs for the everyday, when his work is routine -- when he no longer has to treat the victims, the babies, the innocent lives scarred by suicide bombers.

Posted by David Melle at June 25, 2002 05:16 PM
Comments
Post a comment 
Name:


Email Address:


URL:


Comments:


Remember info?



Email this entry
Email this entry to (please enter email address):


Your email address:


Message (optional):


Referrers to this Page

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains some copyrighted materials the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.




(According to digits.com)