Prepared for any scenario at any place, any time
Hundreds of young volunteers participated in the MDA Mass Casualty Preparedness Course, learning to provide life-saving medical response during disasters. The article below discusses the special training and the readiness for the next earthquake or major terrorist attack.
17-years-old, saving lives in the big leagues
Magen David Adom, Israel’s National Rescue Organization, is not budgeted by the government but operates due to the dedication and determination of 22,000 volunteers, and 2,000 employees. This large volunteer force, which includes 10,000 youth volunteers between the ages of 15-18, is the largest volunteer organization in the country and operates a fleet of ambulances and Mobile Intensive Care ambulances, as well as the special MDA units: helicopter unit, Medi-Cycle unit, electric vehicles, electric bikes, jet skis, etc.
MDA incorporates young people in the ambulance and Intensive Care unit shifts on a routine basis, and the young people comprise an important and necessary auxiliary force assisting Paramedics and EMTs. The volunteers undergo six months of training, after which they save lives across the country. Due to the experience accrued by these young people, as well as their incredible dedication and motivation, MDA decided to train them as an auxiliary force to the MDA teams during mass casualty events, such as earthquakes, aviation emergencies, major terrorist attacks, building collapses, large-scale accidents, etc.
Management of a mass casualty event from one emergency unit
To manage a complex scene that involves multiple victims in one location or in several adjacent sites, as well as prolonged events that require intensive treatment in the field, a special vehicle is required that serves as the control and command unit with all medical equipment required to handle such an event. For this purpose, the TARAN (Hebrew acronym for Mobile Mass Casualty Incident Unit or MMCIU) was created and used by MDA for these events.
The vehicle serves as a main axis from which various points of treatment are divided and managed by paramedics, medics and youth volunteers who are responsible for deploying equipment and assistance to the MDA teams. The TARAN vehicle contains:
• Backboards and stretchers to move victims from the event site to the MDA unit and from there to the hospital.
• ALS bags for paramedics that are used to perform emergency surgery on victims in the field.
• BLS bags for medics.
• Dressing and fluid boxes.
• Audio and lighting devices.
• Triage tags that help the team divide the victims based on severity of injuries, and to navigate them accordingly to hospitals that specialize in treating the injuries.
• Connection to MDA’s national emergency call center for regular communication with shift of cers, MDA managers, commanders and attending teams in the field.
• Link to the MDA application that enables follow-up of victims arriving at the various hospitals, direct link with the emergency rooms and operating rooms in hospitals and a link with the MDA blood bank to transfer emergency blood units to hospitals and to the field if necessary.
I know what you did last summer
While many young people prefer spending the summer on the beach or at the pool, hundreds of MDA youth volunteers spend their time learning to save lives in mass casualty events. Every summer, two classes open that train approximately 700 young people from across the country.
The first part of the course is academic and lasts two-and-a-half days, during which the students learn medical procedures performed by paramedics in the field, in order to serve as an auxiliary force. They learn to control medical equipment in the units and attend lectures on earthquakes and their repercussions, protocols for treating mass casualty events, and the challenges involved in managing
a complex arena. The hands-on drill lasts two and a half days and concludes with an impressive display and academic exam.
This year, young people were drilled on various treatment scenarios including treatment of earthquake victims, in light of the frequent earthquakes recently experienced in Israel in recent weeks, along with protocols for treating major terrorist attacks in light of the threats by ISIS.
The young people completed their training and are excited and ready to save lives, knowing that they can now provide assistance, not only during routine events and minor terrorism attacks, but also in potential major mass casualty events that require strong personal abilities, medical experience and hard work. MDA welcomes the training of our youth volunteers but hopes that there will be no need to practice what they have learned.