For several days this week, the southern Israeli city of Eilat was transformed into a disaster area: an earthquake hit the city, the hospital’s infrastructure was damaged and a medical response was required for hundreds of casualties.
That was the scenario that was played out last week by IDF medical teams near Eilat.
The IDF unit, which consists mostly of reserve personnel, set up a field hospital which functioned as a regular hospital in the emergency situation, receiving hundreds of injured people.
“The surgical unit is a national resource of the state of Israel for large-scale disasters,” said chief medical officer, Brig. Gen. Dovid Dagan. “The field hospital that was set up is a hospital in every respect. It contains the most advanced equipment. In fact, it is possible to carry out within it every type of surgical procedure that is done in a regular hospital.”
The main operational responsibility of the unit is international disaster response, such as the earthquake in Haiti, the typhoon in the Philippines, and so on. Just last February, the unit’s personnel, mostly specialists working in Israel, returned from the earthquake that struck Nepal.
“During the stay in Nepal, we treated a tremendous range of injuries, from head injuries to women who came to give birth because there was no other hospital that could receive them,” said unit commander Lt.-Col. (Res.) Dr. Ofer Marin.
“Since the unit was designed to cope with disasters on a major scale, our training was not like in other places. We held exercises involving tremendous numbers of injured.”
Actually, the uniqueness of the unit is not only in the method of treatment in the field, but in the number of people it can treat, which can reach hundreds in a single day.
“During the exercise, we simulated an event of major proportions, which included treatment in all of our various departments. An important part of the exercise was deployment of the hospital in a desert area without any infrastructure,” Dr. Marin noted.
Dr. Marin is also the assistant director of Shaarei Tzedek, which has treated over 100 people injured during the current wave of terror in Israel.