Raed al Saleh writes: No words can adequately describe what it is like to save a life. It is pure elation to find and rescue a baby from beneath mountains of rubble. But for us the elation never lasts because we are constantly under attack.
In Aleppo, as in many Syrian cities, the sky has become an obsession. Children on street corners stand watching for helicopters. A clear sky in the morning means we must prepare for barrel bombs.
Before the uprising, I was an electrical supplies salesman. Today, I lead the biggest rescue operation in Syria. We are more than 2,000 men and women who volunteer as firefighters, search-and-rescue workers and paramedics. We are nonsectarian, unarmed and neutral, and we have saved more than 15,000 people from all sides of this conflict, including fighters for the regime. We are the Syrian Civil Defense, but because of our uniforms we are known as the White Helmets.
After the bombs rain down, we rush in to dig for survivors. Our motto, “to save one life is to save all humanity,” is what drives us on. But for every life we save, countless more are lost. [Continue reading…]