Malath Khafsheh "I want to defeat death!"

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Date joined Syria Civil Defence: 10 August 2014

Malath tells us about a rescue operation in which he participated:

“We heard a distress call on the walkie-talkie saying that one of the city’s neighbourhoods was being targeted by Russian bombing.

"The target was a public building in which civilians were gathered. We hurried to the location and on the way I was thinking what the scene would be like, because it is crowded with civilians, and Russian bombing is intense and destructive.

"A few meters later we could not see because of the thick dust and smoke.

"We parked the car and continued on foot. There were bodies all over the road; 15 victims outside the targeted building. My team and I started searching for survivors, but to no avail.

"We reached the building, where we were met with destruction and fire, which had resulted from the fuel stored in this public establishment.

"Wearing our face masks, we started searching under the slanted, destroyed roofs.

"There was a gap under the piles of rubble and destroyed roofs through which I looked 
with great difficulty, and I saw a man on his back. I crawled closer to him and found him alive but groaning in pain. I grabbed him and crawled towards the exit.


"When we were outside, I carried him over my shoulder and started running toward the ambulance. I put him on the stretcher and started cooling his burns with water and some basic medications. He said to me: ‘Am I ok?’ I told him: ‘Yes.’

"He asked me: ‘will I die?’ As a rescuer, I repeatedly ask myself the same question every time I pull someone from under the rubble. There are a lot of disappointments, because many times the ambulance and the hospitals are targeted, and we frequently do not find the right medication. But there are sometimes those who defeat death, like this man. I smiled and said to him: ‘You will not die, you have defeated death, we defeated it together.’

"This is the reason I joined Civil Defence. I want to defeat death.

"A few days later I saw the man recovered and going to work.”