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16.11.2023 | ג כסלו התשפד

Shimon Dayan

A medical student in his final year at the Bar-Ilan University Azrieli Faculty of Medicine, serving in the IDF reserves as a Deputy Commander in a Medical Platoon near Gaza


On October 7th, Shimon Dayan was at his mother-in-law's house with his wife and their one-month-old son. "My mother-in-law woke us up and told us there was a war in the South. I switched on my phone, saw the catastrophe, and had no doubt my unit would be called up. I spoke to the commander, and within about two hours, I was on my way to the South," he recalls.

As the platoon commander was abroad, Dayan led the soldiers in the first few days: "I was responsible for mobilizing the entire unit, training the soldiers, and assigning tasks." Initially, under Dayan's command, the primary mission of the forces was to identify casualties: "The Zaka Identification and Rescue Unit team was under my command, and they handled the mission of searching and handling the bodies in Be’eri, Re'im, and all the communities affected by the terrible disaster."

After a week, Dayan's unit was stationed near the border, in one of the kibbutzes the area, to fulfill the role they were trained for - treating the injured from the front near Gaza.

"The soldiers receive primary care in the field, usually on a very high level," he explains, "so we're generally the 2nd stage treatment. However, sometimes the soldiers in the field aren’t able to treat everyone, in which case we’re the primary caregivers before the hospital."

The military situation creates unexpected scenarios in the medical area. "I have seven doctors in the unit, four of whom are very highly ranked," Dayan shares, "I'm a young student, and in daily life, I would have been afraid to address them in a briefing; but now I'm responsible for their personal needs, and give them professional instructions. It's a crazy world – we’re in the army, and my status as a student is irrelevant here. The doctors respect that."

How do you cope with the emotionally complex situation?

"It's tough. I have a friend who was killed on that dark Saturday. He was an officer who went out to fight, and was killed. There's a lot of dissociation, and we focus on the action. We make sure to address the soldiers' psychological reactions as well as their physical ones. We have two professionals in this area in our platoon, and we’re aware that the initial treatment is very important. There’s no shame in seeking help, and everyone does it. Even we, who are constantly with casualties and seemingly immune, need support".


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