Queen’s student volunteers as medical responder in Israel

OISE Open House

Jesse Wolfsohn volunteers with Magen David Adom to provide ambulance service to citizens in need

Jesse Wolfsohn in Israel.
Credit: 
Photo supplied by Jesse Wolfsohn

After spending the summer as a volunteer medical responder in Israel, Queen’s biochemistry student Jesse Wolfsohn knew there was nothing else he’d rather be doing. 

Since 1976, Canadian emergency service Magen David Adom — which is Hebrew for “Red Star of David” — has been providing ambulance services and medical equipment to the people of Israel. Because these services aren’t government-funded in Israel, Magen David Adom enlists student volunteers from all over the world. 

The organization runs throughout the year in six-week increments and is open to any student between the ages of 18 and 30. 

Wolfsohn, ArtSci ’19, was one of the many volunteers this year. After only 10 days of training and learning skills such as CPR and the proper use of medical equipment in Jerusalem, he was ready to begin his work at Israel’s national emergency service. 

Stationed in Haifa for six weeks, Wolfsohn responded to medical emergencies ranging from childbirth to suicide attempts. 

Wolfsohn’s first emergency call involved a man who was struggling with substance abuse who resisted the aid of the medics and attempted to run into oncoming traffic. Wolfsohn reached out and pulled him back, saving his life. 

“No matter what someone does in life we’re all still humans,” he reflected. “Everyone deserves another shot.” 

During Wolfsohn’s travels through Israel, he said locals showed gratitude for the help offered by Magen David Adom through offering the volunteers free meals or a simple smile. 

“I cared about all these people so much,” Wolfsohn said. “I saw people suffering, and I wanted to comfort them. My favourite aspect was, after dropping them off at the hospital, watching them wave goodbye and smile.” 

Despite working with a large diversity of people from various religious communities, Wolfsohn said he witnessed no tension or conflict. The volunteers and the community were united in achieving one goal – helping those in need.

“There were Christians and Muslims and Jews,” Wolfsohn said. “But no one cared about what anyone’s religion was. It didn’t come up. All that mattered was that human life was being saved.”

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