On Wednesday night in Kibbutz Yagur near Haifa, United Hatzalah volunteers from across northern Israel gathered together to hold a large mass casualty incident (MCI) training drill, which simulated a scenario of rocket attacks combined with a terrorist infiltration and gun battles. The drill was devised in the aftermath of the October 7th attacks by Hamas and was designed to train first responders in the north to be prepared for a scenario where the enemy uses similar tactics.

More than 200 EMTs, paramedics, and doctors participated in the drill, utilizing 20 regular ambulances, four intensive care ambulances, a command and control vehicle, multiple ATVs, and drones.

The organization worked with the Extreme Simulations company in order to create realistic scenes of direct rocket hits and mass shootings. It included artificially-generated smoke and sounds of constant ambulance sirens in the background, mock rocket shrapnel as well as a bus with simulated bulletholes, fake body parts scattered around the different scenes and about 150 screaming teenagers with horrific moulage “injuries”, creating a frighteningly convincing environment.

At 06:30 P.M., initial reports were received in United Hatzlah’s Dispatch and Command Center of a simulated direct rocket hit in Kibbutz Yagur as well as sounds of shooting. The first responder who arrived at the scene scanned the area and found two scenes of simulated rocket hits and one mass shooting in a bus, prompting the Dispatch and Command Center to declare the MCI protocol and call on all forces to make their way to the scene. Volunteers, unaware of the specific scenario of the drill, were directed to the three scenes where they provided initial treatment and transported the injured to a triage point set up at the entrance to the site, before the wounded were transported to a mock hospital.

Adding to the uncertainty were concerns of a bomb in one of the scenes which had to be cleared by a sniffer dog before medical teams could reenter the scene as well as two volunteers who were injured by gunfire.

“Post October 7th, we understand the impact of United Hatzalah and saw how hundreds of volunteers treated thousands of people in the Gaza periphery under extreme conditions,” said Dovie Maisel, Vice President of Operations at United Hatzalah. “Looking at the developing northern front we took the lessons learned from the South and did a regional exercise of all the northern branches. We simulated a coordinated attack of rockets and terrorist infiltration of a kibbutz, simulating over 150 victims, utilizing lessons we learned during October 7th from an operational standpoint, the volunteers exercised treating on-site and transport to the hospital.”

Naftali Rotenberg, Director of the Carmel region at United Hatzalah, stated, “With the assistance of branch leaders and our dedicated volunteers in the Carmel region, we successfully conducted this special exercise. Our continuous focus on various threats, routinely updated by security forces, ensures that our medical teams are trained and ready for any situation. I extend my gratitude to the Operations Division of United Hatzalah for their substantial efforts in making this important exercise a success.”