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September 30, 2015 4:04 pm

Canadian Doctors to Undergo Crash Course in Israel Preparing for Future Disasters

avatar by Ruthie Blum

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A Canadian Magen David Adom for Israel ambulance. Photo: Facebook.

A Canadian Magen David Adom for Israel ambulance. Photo: Facebook.

A group of Canadian doctors will undergo training in emergency medicine in Israel this fall, The Canadian Jewish News reported on Friday. The four-day crash course, part of a pilot project organized by Canadian Magen David Adom for Israel (CMDA), will take place November 8-12.

Fashioned after a similar program launched in France last year, the endeavor aims to assist Israel’s Magen David Adom (MDA, equivalent to the Red Cross) create a unit of foreign medical-professional volunteers prepared to come to Israel on short notice to provide emergency services, when needed.

Daniel Amzallag, co-coordinator of the program for the 20 Canadian doctors — who will be covering their own expenses for the trip – told CJN that though most people associate Israel with war and terrorism, the main purpose of the current project is to prepare doctors to assist their Israeli counterparts in the event of an earthquake.

Because Israel lies on a major fault line, the Great Syrian-African Rift – and because of other recent quakes in the region – seismologists have estimated that the Jewish state is in for a big one in the near future. Indeed, whenever there is a lull in terrorism, Israelis are warned about the potential dangers of a large quake, which could not only do severe damage to infrastructure, but would likely lead to much bodily harm and casualties.

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It is thus, Amzallag told CJN, that doctors volunteering from other countries “have to know how to use Israeli equipment, ambulances and field hospitals, and be comfortable working with Israeli staff.”

To this end, according to CJN, the Jerusalem- and Tel Aviv-based course, “includes both classroom study and two days of field training on MDA ambulances. On the last day, the Canadians will take part in a mass-casualty drill with MDA workers, as well as police and fire departments.”

According to Amzallag, some of the French physicians trained in this way ended up volunteering their services during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza last summer.

This is not the first time that doctors from other countries have benefited from the expertise of Israelis, who have experience in mass emergency evacuation and treatment of patients – both at home and abroad.

Israeli medical personnel have flown to all parts of the world to set up field hospitals during earthquakes, floods and tsunamis. Israeli doctors were also instrumental in treating victims of the April 15, 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, which took the lives of three people, and left 183 others wounded.

Many of the survivors were treated in Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a teaching hospital of Harvard University, two of whose senior staff members are Israeli citizens. One of these, Dr. Kervin Tabb – the medical center’s president and chief executive officer — had spent years in Israel and served in the IDF.

At the time, he said that the terror attack in Bostonwas very similar to what I was used to in Israel, in that we had to admit many injured people in a short period of time. The fact that we are treating both the victims and the suspected terrorist also reminds me of similar situations in Israel. In Israel we had an injured soldier and a terrorist lying on adjacent beds. When an injured person is admitted to the ER, the doctor or nurse treats him without asking questions. Whenever an injured party arrives at the emergency room, at the trauma section, the doctors and the nurses do what they are trained to do, and forget everything else.”

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