Two 21-year-old IDF Infantry Brigade paramedics, Dor Ashkenazi and Almog Oren, were half asleep inside their armored vehicle at the Gaza border crossing of Kerem Shalom on the morning of October 7, when the boom of rockets falling nearby shook them awake.
Their radios soon buzzed with an alert that Hamas terrorists were approaching the border fence.
Anticipating a mass-casualty event, which they’d rehearsed for, they decided to run to the nearest shelter and open a makeshift field hospital there rather than risk treating the wounded next to the carrier, nicknamed The Wolf.
This was a wise decision. The Wolf was hit by several RPG missiles that destroyed it and set fire to all the medical equipment stored inside. There was a locked ambulance on their base, so Ashkenazi broke the window with the barrel of a rifle and removed the oxygen tank.
He carried it to Almog in the shelter, who was getting ready to receive any casualties.
Through the narrow opening of the shelter, the two paramedics could see dozens of Hamas terrorists racing toward their outpost. Heavy fighting ensued, with the medical staff and additional combat soldiers managing to prevent the infiltrators from taking over Kerem Shalom.
They soon had their first patient, brought to them under a barrage of enemy fire and covering fire. Almog started treating the soldier’s hand injury while Ashkenazi and other paramedics went to rescue other wounded soldiers. Along the way, Ashkenazi shot a terrorist running toward the women’s barracks.
“First of all we are fighters, and then we are caregivers,” Ashkenazi told Ynet. “The first step in treatment, within the battalion aid station, is to make sure you are in a situation to provide such treatment.”
They even performed improvised surgeries in that shelter, getting live telephone assistance from a senior IDF physician in another part of the country.
Six hours later, they had run out of plasma and oxygen. Finally, a medevac helicopter appeared with a crew to evacuate the wounded. But a fence separated their shelter/field hospital from the helicopter, so they drove another Wolf through the fence to gain access to the Sikorsky Sea Stallion.
“We took military blankets on which we placed the wounded, and that’s how we were able to get them out of the narrow opening [of the shelter] onto the stretcher and into the helicopter.”
Soon afterward, Ashkenazi learned that his aunt and cousin had been murdered in Kfar Aza.
But he and Oren also learned later that every patient they’d treated was recovering. They did not lose a single one.