21-year-old Brooke Samuelson made Aliyah to Israel in July from Cincinnati, Ohio, and is doing national service (Sheirut Leumi) through the Bat Ami organization as a medic with Magen David Adom based in Ashdod in southern Israel.
"I have always been intrigued by medicine and science, so when I learned that there was an option to apply to train to be a medic, I knew I found the perfect way for me to serve Israel," explained Samuelson.
Brooke was trained to be a first responder volunteer through MDA the summer before last and says she loved it. "I hoped that my Hebrew would be strong enough to make it through the training required to advance to the next level at MDA to become a medic. I practiced a lot and was thankfully successful. Last year, I tried, and they said my Hebrew wasn’t good enough, but I spent the whole year studying and learning Hebrew, and I got I got to train to be a medic."
She described her job as always exciting and often intense. "Whether treating a child with a seizure, a mental health emergency, or an older adult with a stroke, we are the first to arrive on-site to stabilize them and transport them to the hospital. On a regular day, we could treat patients with various needs, all the way from a stomach ache to a life-threatening situation where we have to administer CPR."
Now that the war is happening, her role has changed a bit. "As a medic during wartime, we get lots of soldiers coming in via helicopter straight from Gaza with gunshot wounds or other serious war-related injuries," she described.
When asked if she had an experience that was especially significant, she answered: "I don’t know if I could specifically pull out one significant experience in MDA as much as many collective experiences that I have had. One of the special things about MDA is the unity we have and how well we all work as a team to accomplish our common goal (saving lives). There is such a wide variety of people who I work with. We have Israelis of all types. Some are Chareidim, Modern Orthodox Jews, and non-religious Jews all working together. Since the war started, we have been having Jewish doctors come in from all over the world to help us, and it is truly beautiful to see what can happen when everyone does their part."
When asked why she chose to National Service she said: "I chose to do Sheirut Leumi because Israel is my country, and it is becoming more and more clear that we don’t have anywhere else to go. Protecting it is my duty."