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Israel: a baby born as rockets fall

08-08-2006 Feature

Hezbollah's rocket attacks on northern Israel have killed and injured several civilians since the beginning of the current conflict. Huri Salim, an emergency medical technician with the Magen David Adom, recounts this story from Haifa.

It is not easy to describe one of my shifts in the city these days. The past few weeks have been hard. It is difficult to adjust to working 12-hour days in a war zone that until a month ago was just a normal Israeli city.

I am used to working under pressure but this is quite different. Treating patients while the sirens wail and Katyusha rockets fall is not something you easily get used to.

Last night one of these rockets hit an apartment building. I was called to the site along with my colleagues from Magen David Adom's Carmel station. It was a mess. There was rubble, wounded victims bleeding, and people suffering anxiety attacks.

I had already started treating a man with facial wounds and burn injuries to his legs when a bystander pulled me away shouting that there was another victim in agony.

I transferred the burn victim to the care of another crew nearby and went to help. The woman I'd been told about was heavily pregnant and complaining of acute abdominal pain. As I was checking her vital signs to see if the pain was caused by trauma or childbirth, her waters broke. She had gone into labour early out of sheer fright. This would be her third child, she told me.

I transported her as quickly as possible to hospital – quickly enough that the baby was born in the maternity ward's delivery room. But I couldn't stay to see if the new arrival was a boy or a girl – I was already rushing out to other places in Haifa that had been hit by rockets.