Former Atlanta Doctor Finds Commonality in Civilian and Military EMS Approaches in Israel

Former Atlantan Dr. Arie Pelta has been appointed to be the new head of medicine for the Beit Shemesh region of United Hatzalah. Pelta, a reservist in the IDF, is currently in the middle of combat medical officer training but took some time out of his reserve duty to speak about the recent appointment.

Dr. Pelta in IDF training to become an officer

Dr. Pelta in IDF training to become an officer

“It’s ironic that I am talking about this appointment now,” said Pelta who was enjoying some quiet time from training. “The irony lies in the similarities between what I am learning in training here in the IDF and what I need to do for United Hatzalah at home. The most important thing is to know how to properly manage one’s team in the field during a whole range of emergencies, the most complex of which is a mass-casualty incident or MCI. There, the highest ranking medical responder needs to take charge of all of the medical responders in the field and give them precise instructions on how to triage and treat patients. Essentially, I have to be the person who tells everyone else what to do.”


The responsibility that falls on Pelta with this new position is not lightly managed. The logistics can be quite overwhelming for the untrained in the art of managing disaster scenarios such as terror attacks or large-scale car accidents as well as many others.


“A lot of times in EMS work in the field, a lot of EMTs, paramedics and other volunteers arrive. While they each know how to treat a patient, many times it is difficult to ascertain who to treat first and how to make that distinction. The triage decisions, as well as making sure that all of the patients in the field have been attended to, necessitate split second decisions that save lives time and time again. This process is expedited in the field by training and working numerous practice drills for the command officers as well as the responders themselves.”


Pelta added that the training he received by United Hatzalah and the IDF compliment each other extremely well in this area. “UH has special training in that field as does the IDF and I feel that they very much compliment each other. The tools I have been given really work.”

Dr. Pelta receiving advanced defibrillator donated by Atlanta Jewish Community from United Hatzalah

Dr. Pelta receiving advanced defibrillator donated by Atlanta Jewish Community from United Hatzalah

Pelta recently took a group of 6 United Hatzalah volunteers in Beit Shemesh and trained them as a cohesive unit so that when they arrive at any given scene each one finds their place among the responders in the field and knows exactly what each of the team members is responsible for doing, and where they themselves fit into the picture.


“The whole idea is figuring out a way to improve the quality of the training that we receive in order to be able to provide the highest level of care for the patients with the fastest response time possible. The time it takes responders to figure out where they are needed during an MCI or any other emergency, is time that the patient is not receiving care. To work as a cohesive team and thereby cut out precious seconds means that we provide our high level of care for the patients even faster and that is what this is all about.”


Before immigrating to Israel and joining both United Hatzalah and the IDF, Pelta was the head of the Colon/Rectal division in Atlanta Medical Center and was a professor of surgery at the Medical College of Georgia. Currently, in Israel, Pelta works out of the HMO in Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot and has private clinics in the Assuta Medical Center in Tel Aviv, as well as private offices in Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh.


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