Alan Stein
Alan, a 20 year old from Melbourne, volunteered for
Magen David Adom. He describes his time with MDA as
one of the major learning experiences of his life.


April 2015


I’d been waiting a long time for this. My first shift in a Natan with the big kids in the MDA playground.

My first call, – around seven hours into that shift, woke me up from a light sleep. I ran into the ambulance and heard that we were to drive about an hour responding to this call – but I could not gather why. When we parked in Arad, I took out the first-aid bag and followed the driver upstairs. Without any warning I realised why we were there.

An elderly lady had suffered a stroke and had passed away. Apparently, she also had had cancer. We were only there so that the doctor with us could sign the death warrant. None of us seemed startled; not even me, who had never seen a dead person before. In fact, I struck up conversation with some of the Israeli junior volunteers who knew English and, to them, it was just another call.

What really struck me occurred on the drive back to Be’er Sheva. We stopped at a bus stop by a large and evidently poor Bedouin village. There, we picked up a four-year old boy with hypoglycaemia. The hypoglycaemia acts quickly and has similar symptoms to stroke. Surely, this would be a fatality. It would take us 45 minutes to get to Soroka Hospital in Be’er Sheva. So his life would probably be in our hands.

blog_alan_stein2I’d really like to write about how heroic I was, how I kept on top of the vital signs and how I did everything in my training to ensure he was okay. But then I’d be lying to you.

I did almost nothing. I tore some pieces of tape so that the medic could insert an IV needle. I fumbled around for the equipment needed to measure blood pressure and glucose, but couldn’t get readings on either. Meanwhile, the boy was throwing up into his oxygen mask. His mother was with us and I could only imagine what was going through her mind – particularly when we arrived at the hospital and I damn near dropped the machine that was keeping him alive! And I’ll never know whether the boy made it or not, because our call was over. My shift was finished and home I went.

All I can say is that I learnt so much about Israel, health, myself and life in the space of a couple hours thanks to the Magen David Adom course.