2017 has been declared by the National Emergency Authority as the year of earthquake preparedness. This week, large MDA forces together with the IDF, the Police, the Fire Department, government offices, municipalities and emergency bodies will take part in various drills and exercises throughout the country.
These exercises aim to improve MDA’s preparedness to earthquake scenarios, reinforce operational procedures as well as cooperation and collaboration between MDA, the IDF, the Police and other security and emergency bodies in Israel. MDA will practice providing preliminary medical treatment to victims of a destructive earthquake, tsunamis and building collapses. MDA’s dispatch centers will also participate by evacuating dispatch centers and continuing to take emergency calls outdoors.
The MDA National Command and Control Vehicle will also be deployed throughout the week. The truck was manufactured especially for MDA and is equipped with state of the art technology: cameras that rise up to 19 meters high to enable command and control of a large vicinity, dispatching stations, satellite communications, Wi-Fi networks, and a hi-tech conference room, all to ensure operational continuity during mass disasters in which infrastructures become dysfunctional.
On Sunday morning, June 11, 2017, MDA established an operation room at its Tel Aviv headquarters. Information, updates and reports immediately began flowing into the center as well as demands from the various regions in which MDA operates. Instructions were then sent out to the field, with an emphasis on logistics such as food distribution, gas, etc. also to ensure the organization’s operational continuity.
Also practicing this week are MDA’s blood services. The blood bank will simulate transporting blood transfusions to hospitals under earthquake conditions and holding blood donation drives in accordance to Home Front Command instructions.
As a member of the international Red Cross movement, MDA has spent years learning the lessons and methods of its sister Red Cross societies around the world that have dealt with earthquake response. Only recently, mutual learning sessions were held with the Mexican and Ecuadorian Red Cross societies.
This week MDA will collaborate with the Ministry of Health and the National Emergency Authority to simulate acceptance of humanitarian aid from other countries. The simulation will include the landing of the delegation, receiving entrance and work permits, providing laundry and food services, and most importantly, establishing a field hospital that can hold 100 beds and has surgical capabilities.
MDA’s unit for restoring family ties established following its acceptance into the international Red Cross movement in 2006, will also be exercising this week simulating providing information to families about missing family members.
On Tuesday, 19 Sivan, MDA teams will participate in a drill at the Knesset in Jerusalem along with the Knesset Guard, Knesset medical forces, and fire fighters. MDA forces will simulate treating victims trapped under ruins, rescuing victims, summoning the wounded on high floors and the building’s rooftop, as well as evacuating the patients in an MDA helicopter.
MDA Director General, Eli Bin: “Due to MDA’s participation in such drills, we are able to derive lessons and better prepare for when incidents strike. Treating earthquake victims is complex, MDA as the national rescue organization of Israel continues to develop and advance technologically and professionally in order to provide the best medical and humanitarian response. This week we intend on spotting the loopholes that still remain in order to come up with solutions fast enough to face the tough, complex challenge of an earthquake. MDA as part of the international Red Cross movement will practice accepting international humanitarian aid necessary during mass disasters.”
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)