Savannah Paramedic Volunteers to Help Syrian Refugees

A paramedic from Savannah finishes five months volunteering on the Syrian/Jordanian border to help war refugees (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic, File)

(SAVANNAH) It’s the time of year when a lot of people work to help people in need, but a local paramedic went so far as to put his life in danger to help people in one of the most volatile places on Earth. 30 year old Carlo Hodil is still adjusting to his regular job as a paramedic. He works with Medic Ambulance Service in Savannah. His station on Dean Forest Road seems worlds away from where he was volunteering just a few weeks ago in the shadow of the second largest refugee camp in the world. It’s located near the border between Syria and Jordan.” We set up a community health program and through that we try to help as many people as we can, mainly pediatric patients, so we saw everyone that was trying to flee the conflict, from war wounded to starvation, to malnutrition, and different ailments.” said Hodil. But does he feel the pressure of fear knowing that ISIS, the Islamic Terrorist group, is all around the region where he’s working? ” Yes and no…while we’re there, ya know, that fear is always in the back of your mind, but you wake up every morning and put on your boots, go through, look at your medical supplies, and step out and try to help out as many people as we can.”

Hodil says the help they provide comes in the form of house calls, armed only with the medical supplies he can carry in a duffle bag. He works with a local doctor along the border outside a clinical setting, going house-to-house, even visiting tents in the desert to help people in need. Hodil is part of a non government agency based out of Cincinnati, Ohio, Crisis Relief Overseas, or CROS. They respond to the medical needs of people caught in the middle of conflicts around the world. Hodil says part of his bedside manner makes him feel like an ambassador. ” For many of them, that was the first time they’ve ever seen an American, let alone, coming to them in the middle of the desert to try and help them out. It’s about goodwill…got to open up hearts and minds towards American people and help change the way people perceive America.”

Hodil says he feels compelled to take the risk of volunteering in such a dangerous environment, to help the Syrian refugees because they are virtual outcasts on a global level because of the fear of terrorists mingling with them as a means to enter other countries to carry out attacks. But he says he can not ignore all the people who have no malicious intentions towards the West. ” The fear of terrorist organizations infiltrating there is a real threat, it’s a very credible, but at the same time they’re people too. Go to look at their hearts and minds and try to help out everyone that we possibly can, and that’s what we do…and that’s why we go back into the conflict zones or near the conflict zone to try to bring the medical support they need.” said Hodil. He says he plans to return to that region to continue his work. He adds that he pays his own travel and food expenses, but does receive a small stipend to help with housing while he is in the conflict zone. Syria is not his first conflict zone, Hodil first learned of and began work with CROS during the crisis in Kosovo after they broke away from Serbia in southeastern Europe in 2008.


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