By Michael Bachner/TPS
Israel’s national emergency medical service, Magen David Adom (MDA), released a statement on Thursday warning the Israeli public of the dangers of using Pokémon Go, the popular augmented-reality / mixed reality game that has been drawing much attention around the world. The warning follows many cases of Israelis who were injured while playing Pokémon Go, including three incidents this week.
“We call on the public to exercise caution and to be aware of the dangers of using the app,” said MDA Director Eli Bin. “It is unacceptable for children, teenagers, or adults to become engrossed in the game and unnecessarily put their lives in jeopardy.”
A 15-year-old girl from Karmiel fractured her skull on Wednesday when she fell off her bicycle while chasing pokémons. She sustained various head injuries and was taken to the Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya.
Another serious incident occurred the following day when a 35-year-old Pokémon Go player from Rishon LeZion ran and collided with a glass door. The glass shattered, and shards penetrated the man’s leg causing him massive bleeding.
Earlier in the week, a teenager almost drowned at a beach in Ashdod while attempting to catch the virtual creatures in the water. The 17-year-old, Asaf Ben-Gozi, lost consciousness and was rescued by his brother. Ben-Gozi was taken to Kaplan hospital in Rehovot where doctors described the incident as life threatening.
According to MDA, these incidents are only the most recent of many calls the emergency response organization has received in the past weeks involving dangerous use of Pokémon Go.
“This is a dangerous trend that is gaining popularity,” said MDA Paramedic Georgi Goliak. “I recently treated a 16-year-old boy who was chasing pokémons, ran into the water with his phone, and sustained a head injury. For what? To catch an imaginary creature?”
“Unfortunately, this summer we are witnessing an increase in the amount of injuries among children and teenagers, partly due to the fact that they have been chasing pokémons,” said Galilee Medical Center Director of Pediatric Intensive Care Dr. Zeev Sonis. “Many parents are not aware of the new game. Pokémon has become a trend that blurs dangers such as roads, potholes and water bodies, especially among youngsters. Awareness to this issue should be raised to prevent the next tragedy.”
Pokémon Go is a free location-based augmented reality game released this year by Niantic, in collaboration with the famous gaming company Nintendo. The game has become a major hit worldwide. It has also succeeded in Israel even though the game has not yet been officially released in the country, since many users managed to bypass the restriction and hunt pokémons in the holy land.