Four days after the Meron disaster, the Health Ministry reviewed the response of the emergency rescue teams at the scene and the evacuation of the injured to hospitals, Channel 13 News reported.
According to the report, about 40 victims were evacuated to Ziv Hospital in Tzfat, the closest hospital to Meron, although the emergency room only has 20 beds.
“Nahariya Hospital was waiting to receive more injured patients but they didn’t arrive although the hospital was prepared for it,” said Rafi Golani, head of the Health Ministry’s emergency department.
“The casualties were distributed incorrectly,” another source said. “The only thing that was carried out well was the emergency management of the actual event. Even the transport from hospital to hospital was illogical. One patient was evacuated by helicopter to Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem. Does that make any sense?”
“I don’t know why so many casualties were evacuated to Ziv,” the source continued. “They’re not equipped to accept 47 casualties all at once. Not a chance. The secondary evacuation was to Rambam in Haifa. Who decided that?”
The probe also found that helicopter landing pads at Sheba, Ichilov, and Beilinson hospitals, were unusable, necessitating the evacuation of the wounded to Jerusalem.
The Health Ministry also found that EMTs on Mount Meron reported casualties at 12:50 a.m. but the Health Ministry was only notified of the disaster at 1:19 a.m., and the hospitals were only alerted to prepare to accept casualties at 1:51 a.m.
The ministry’s conclusions were that although the emergency response at the site was carried out well, the evacuation of the injured was inefficient and disorganized. In addition, hospitals must be better prepared to triage casualties. The report also recommended a more in-depth investigation into the decision-making process at the site to better understand who was making the decisions during the disaster.
In response to the report, Sheba Medical Center in Tel HaShomer, Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, and Beilinson Hospital in Petach Tikva denied the Health Ministry’s claims that their helicopter landing pads are not equipped to receive casualties, a later Ynet report stated.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)