Following the continued tremors and aftershocks that have shaken Israel’s north for the past week, Israel’s Health Ministry and the National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) have informally asked United Hatzalah to pre-register all available and willing members of Hatzolah organizations worldwide who are interested in assisting Israel should a large-scale earthquake occur.
Israel has built a plan in preparation of a worst-case scenario event in which some 7,000 people could be killed and 28,600 buildings destroyed, requiring an incredible amount of international aid. Recognizing that such a doomsday scenario may be imminent, the Health Ministry together with NEMA are preparing pre-registered lists of available international medical and search and rescue personnel who will be willing to come and assist in search and rescue operations as well as in makeshift field hospitals that will be set up near disaster zones should a devastating earthquake occur. The lists are to help facilitate and streamline acclimation of international volunteers in the case of a large-scale emergency and get them in the field faster once they arrive in Israel.
“We have been asked by the Health Ministry to pre-register all members of Hatzolah organizations worldwide who, in the event of a major earthquake will want to come to Israel and provide aid,” said Dov Maisel the Vice President of United Hatzalah in charge of International Operations. “The Hatzolah volunteers from the various organizations around the world are some of the most dedicated and giving emergency personnel out there. We are happy to facilitate their registration which will enable them to operate in Israel with full insurance coverage and logistical assistance should the need arise,” he added.
According to a report prepared by NEMA in 2012 and presented at a disaster preparedness conference to Israel’s emergency services organizations last week, Israel’s worst-case disaster scenario would result in 290,000 buildings damaged and 46,000 people injured in addition to the previously mentioned destroyed buildings and people who would be killed. The report suggests that in such a scenario, close to 10,000 people would be trapped and 170,000 people would be left homeless. A later report in 2016 by by Israel’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee’s Home-Front Readiness Subcommittee found that if Israel were to be struck by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake, the estimate of homeless people would rise to 377,000 In addition, the country could face damages of up to NIS 200 billion.
“Having been one of the responders who assisted with earthquake relief in both Haiti and Nepal, and after seeing the report by NEMA I can say with confidence that if a doomsday scenario were to occur in Israel, then we would need all of the international help that we can get. Imagine 37,000 people even lightly injured. That would overwhelm any hospital framework. Those people likely wouldn’t even be sent to the hospital in such a scenario, rather they would receive whatever treatment was available in the field and that would be it. Thus, every pair of hands, especially trained medical response volunteers such as Hatzolah members from all over the world, will be invaluable,” Maisel added.
Members of Hatzolah rescue services across the globe, as well as other medical first responders who are interested in providing assistance in Israel, in the event of a large-scale earthquake, are invited to pre-register at this website: