Israeli experience for VU paramedicine students

Ten third-year students from Victoria University’s Bachelor of Paramedicine had a taste of ambulance work at a hectic international level during a study tour to Israel.

The ten students were chosen via written applications and left Melbourne at the end of June, almost immediately after exams.

“We spent four days in Munich at the beginning of the trip, just getting to know one another, getting used to the different time zone and doing a bit of de-stressing,” said student Stephanie Donnelly.

Paramedicine students and their supervisors in Israel

A two-day mass-casualty course in Tel Aviv followed and then the students were split into two groups; one stayed in Tel Aviv and the other was sent to Jerusalem. Halfway through the placement, they swapped.

Stephanie’s group was sent to Jerusalem first, a place that she says she would return to “in a heartbeat”.

Both groups were assigned to busy urban stations and given standard shifts, working with the Magen David Admon, or MDA, which is Israel’s national emergency, medical, disaster, ambulance and blood bank service. The students worked alongside MDA officers in areas that were densely packed with diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds, a situation that could sometimes create potential for tension to develop quickly.

“When we were there, the calls were similar to what the ambulance would get here in Australia – car accidents, heart attacks etc. – but because it is such a heavily populated area, there are a lot more,” said Stephanie.

“One of the most valuable things that I think we all took from this experience was learning to appreciate and read non-verbal clues,” she said. “Because we couldn’t understand Hebrew, we were all so open to looking for other ways of understanding what the patient was telling us.”

There are elemental differences in the way Israeli and Australian ambulance services operate. MDA relies on around 10,000 operational and administrative volunteers, some as young as 15, to supplement its 1200 medical personnel.

This is the third time MDA has hosted students from Victoria University.


Gavin Smith, Associate Professor in Paramedicine at VU, became involved in the inaugural study group in 2014 and continued to manage the logistics and lead the tour this year.

For more information and interviews, contact Gavin.

Associate Professor Gavin Smith
+61 3 9919 4718
Email: [email protected]

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