For the past year, Israel has been confronted with a steady stream of terror attacks, many coming from Judea and Samaria. We recently sat with Captain Bar, the Etzion Regional Brigade Medical Commander, who reflected on her eight years as a medic in the IDF (Zahal): Her stories, insights, and memories.
What has your daily routine been like in the past few months?
We actually don’t have a routine. Whenever we get called to the scene of a terror attack – we immediately come. Even when it’s a regular civilian emergency, we don’t miss an opportunity to help.
How do you feel about the work you do in light of recent events?
There were weeks with at least one attack a day. Every terror attack tears us apart. It breaks our hearts. We simply have no choice but to rise from the ashes. We return from the incident, wash the ambulance, wash the equipment, and we wash ourselves. That includes our minds. We must clear our minds and be mentally ready to treat the next victims.
As a medic, you are responsible for treating anyone in need. That must be tough, especially when you must provide medical care to the attackers.
The fabric of life in Judea and Samaria is unreal. There are Jews, Muslims, religious and nonreligious people living together. The feeling is very close. It is family-like. The situation is hard for everyone. I won’t lie, it’s difficult for me when I realize that I am saving the attacker’s life, but I swore to help anyone – ally and enemy. This is our job. We do it to the best of our ability.
Do you ever reminisce about the people you have treated?
You can’t forget them. Ever. After being stabbed in Gush Etzion, Maj. Eliav Gelman was later killed as a result of errant fire. I was the last person to see him alive. I was the last person to touch him. I was the last person to speak to him. I watched him die in front of me. It breaks my heart. It wasn’t his family or friends. It was my fellow medics and I. It’s a chilling feeling. We understand how meaningful these last moments are.
It’s impossible to detach yourself from those that are killed or wounded. I find myself thinking about them long after the attack is over. And it isn’t just me. We are connected to those that we treat. My medics and I visit the people we save in the hospitals. In less fortunate events, we go to their funerals. Often, the injured also find it important to know who saved them.
What are your thoughts and wishes for the future?
Right now, the situation is tense. Nevertheless, unless we are no longer physically able, we will not stop risking our lives to save the lives of others. This is what gives us a real feeling of accomplishment and pride.