On Friday morning, United Hatzalah, Israel’s national volunteer-based EMS organization, held a simulated mass casualty incident (MCI) training drill that simulated a terror attack on a bus. The drill involved the response of dozens of emergency medical personnel, all of whom are part of the organization’s women’s initiative, as well as 50 simulated patients and dozens of spectators. The simulated scenario involved a bus that had been shot which then careened into a number of other vehicles leaving 50 people injured.

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United Hatzalah’s medevac helicopter

“The organization has been on a mission to train all of its volunteers to be able to respond to mass casualty incidents, in light of the recent rise in terror attacks as well as previous MCIs such as Meron and Givat Ze’ev,” said Eli Beer, President and Founder of United Hatzalah.  “We’re proud to say that Friday’s drill was a success, and all of the female volunteers who participated were able to gain hands-on knowledge of how to respond quickly and effectively to the scenario we presented and work together as a large team of responders in an organized fashion. This information will be vital to them should they ever face such a scenario in the field.”

During the drill, which took place in Janana Park near Jerusalem, the atmosphere was tense and realistic, with lights, sirens, pyrotechnics, and volunteers in full gear rushing to the scene of the simulated attack. The sound of ambulance sirens filled the air as the volunteers arrived on the scene to treat the simulated wounded, who were running around, screaming and moaning in pain, covered in fake blood. One of United Hatzalah’s helicopters also participated in the drill and transported one of the simulated patients to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital where the hospital staff, some of whom were also participating, practiced receiving a patient from the medevac helicopter.

The volunteers worked tirelessly to triage and treat the wounded, simulating a real-life emergency situation, and faced the challenge of transporting critically injured patients to the hospital as quickly and efficiently as possible.

As the drill was conducted just two days after Yom Ha’atzmaut, the EMS organization used the opportunity to dedicate 75 new ambucycles and 75 new e-bikes which were funded by 75 donors in honor of Israel’s 75th anniversary. Each donor contributed to the organization an ambucycle, an e-bike, and a day’s worth of lifesaving for the organization.  “We want to extend our special thanks to the donors who made this possible,” said Dov Maisel, Vice President of Operations at United Hatzalah. “Our donors are partners in lifesaving in every sense of the word, and we opened this drill in specific for our donors to come and observe how we train for worst-case scenarios, even though we hope we never have to use what we have learned.”

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Treating the “injured”

Present during the event were Adele and Joel Sandberg and Amy Korenvaes who spearhead the organization’s new women’s initiative which aims to double the number of female volunteers in the organization in under five years. Currently, the organization numbers 6,500 volunteers, among them are 1,300 women.

Also present was former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and his wife Tammy who have been long-time supporters of the organization. Friedman spoke about the energy present during the drill. “I am so excited to be here to see this drill. It’s the first time I’ve gotten to see United Hatzalah’s helicopter take off in action. Dedicating 75 ambucycles and 75 electric bikes on Israel’s 75 anniversary was really special, as was seeing all of the hard work of the volunteers who participated. It was a beautiful ceremony and all of the volunteers here are really doing God’s work and they are doing it just for the satisfaction of helping others in need. My wife and I are really proud to be here to support the organization and be here on this wonderful day.”

Beer concluded by saying: “The drill and vehicle dedication, with female EMTs taking center stage, highlights the organization’s commitment to empowering women and providing the fastest and most professional emergency medical response possible to those in need, especially during times of crisis.

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