When Jon Burke and Nathan Redlich signed up for Magen David Adom’s overseas volunteer program, they had no idea they’d be responding to more than just broken bones and heart attacks. By the time they arrived, Operation Protective Edge (the 2014 Gaza War) was underway.
For six weeks Jon, Nathan, and hundreds of other overseas volunteers worked in the back of MDA ambulances after intensive introductory training. Alongside paramedics and EMTs, Jon and Nathan worked eight-hour shifts, sometimes back-to-back, to keep up with the higher number of emergencies. In Tel Aviv, the two were out of range of most rocket attacks, but they still responded to a wide range of injuries and emergencies.
They could have flown back to the safety of the U.S., as some family and friends hoped, but instead they stayed to help MDA.
“I had several moments where both Americans and even Israelis said, ‘You came during this time?’” said Jon, a Minneapolis native. “‘Of course we came during this time’, I’d say. It doesn’t seem heroic or spectacular or exceptional. We just do the best we can.”