These are the events that happened to me on Tuesday Evening 3 May 2011:
At approximately 8:45pm I was on the phone in the office delivering a case, when I suddenly felt two successive tremendously powerful booms that landed to the left of my office which shook its foundations. It took me about 2 seconds to realize that this was the real deal and I needed to get to a bunker immediately. I quickly told the solider on the phone I had to go. I set down the phone and ran out the back door to the office as I saw the two other soldiers who had been watching TV in the office bolt out the front door. As I stepped out onto the deck, the sirens went off. They sound like air raid sirens punctuated by the announcement “IDF Impact, IDF Impact, Shelter in Place, Shelter in Place, Don IBA, Don IBA.” As the ominous warning sounds over and over I can hear booms hitting around me through the drone of the siren. As my mind attempted to process which was the safest bunker in relation to where I could hear the booms, I saw soldiers with guns and body armor sprinting in every direction.
I finally ran as fast as I could to the bunker behind our office in the courtyard. Inside there were probably about 20 people already and due to the location of this bunker it continued to fill and fill until a soldier yelled for every second person to take a step forward so that we could fit more people in. This same soldier was yelling for soldiers with guns to remain at the two entrances of the bunker for protection. I found myself squashed into the center of the bunker with a woman suffering a head wound leaning into me. I still have the blood on my uniform. She had hit her head running into the bunker and blood was running from the wound down her face. Because of my position I ended up being the one to provide whatever basic care for her I could. People handed me some tissues and I called for a bottle of water and I did what I could for her in the circumstances.
The sirens stopped wailing after about 10 minutes and the air became eerily quiet. Because soldiers needed to report in for accountability people became brave enough to start sprinting to other buildings and bunkers. Our office was only about a 10 second sprint so I ducked and charged back, ran in and got on the phone to another Red Cross office to tell them to watch our emergency message queue because we were taking incoming. Then I ran back to the bunker and settled down to wait. The sirens sounded again and continued going off successively for another 20-30 min. I didn’t know where my team was but I could only hope that given all the noise they had all made it into a bunker.
Once the “All Clear” siren sounded, I went back to the office and waited for my team members to report in as was designated in our emergency action plan. Everyone was safe and had made it to a bunker. We did a short debrief and listened to each other recount their experiences. And then, typical to a deployment setting, everyone departed and I went back to delivering cases.
That was yesteday. Today is Wednesday 4 May 2011 and I’ve already been back in that same bunker once today.