As published by EMS 1:

Eighty-nine women participated in what was the first ever all-female mass casualty incident drill of its kind in Israel.

The women, many of whom are from different Ultra-Orthodox communities in Israel, recently finished EMT training courses in different parts of the country. They joined together in Jerusalem on December 27, 2016, for a combined drill which simulated a massive terror attack on a girl’s high-school, arranged under the oversight of certified United Hatzalah trainers, paramedics and doctors. The drill included 59 “injured” persons who were professionally made up to appear as wounded individuals. Sirens, recorded screaming, flashing lights and smoke machines were employed to give a sense of realism to the scene.

EMTs transport a patient on a stretcher during the simulation drill. (Photo/United Hatzalah)
EMTs transport a patient on a stretcher during the simulation drill. (Photo/United Hatzalah)

Batsheva Soussan, one of the newly graduated EMTs and a participant in the drill, spoke about her experience. “The drill was well orchestrated and allowed us to get a first -hand feeling of what a mass casualty incident is like. For the first time we, the new graduates, were able to see all of the different levels of EMS responders working together at the same scene. For me, it was empowering to see this many women from different walks of life, with different backgrounds and EMS specializations coming together to get better at saving lives.”

Soussan explained that the unifying interest of life-saving, that was prevalent with all of the women, bridged religious divides as well as social ones. “Many of the women who were there today come from very religious backgrounds. It was inspiring to see them be able to step out of their responsibilities at home and their places of work to do something that was truly meaningful for them. This exemplifies how each of us can step outside of our own comfort zones and  make a difference in our own community,” Soussan said.

Another participant, Bracha Zicherman was also inspired to become an EMT due to seeing the effect of the community-based responders all around her. “I see how much of a difference EMTs make in our community and I knew I wanted to help, as I have a lot to give,” Zicherman said.

Zicherman added that for her, the drill made the information that the women had learned in the course come alive. “The drill was the first experience in treating people and not dolls. It became real for me, that this is something that I will now be doing to help people. When you see a person with a knife sticking out of their head, even if it is a fake knife and professional make-up, you get a sense of realism that isn’t present in training courses, no matter how professional they are,” Zicherman said.

The drill was organized by recently graduated EMT Gitty Beer, who is also the wife of the Founder and President of United Hatzalah, Eli Beer. Gitty said that she organized the drill to better prepare the newly minted EMTs for the worst possible scenario that they may ever have to face.

“We combined four groups of recently graduated women, all of whom completed their EMT training courses within the past few months. The courses, some of which were sponsored by the Lions of Judah women’s organization, were put in place in order to allow women who wanted to learn how to save lives to be able to do so in a comfortable and “kosher” environment, all while building bonds of friendship and camaraderie with other like-minded women,” Beer said. “We all know that medical emergencies can be terribly unnerving and very exposing. Our hope is to eliminate as much of the discomfort felt by female patients as possible.”