Israeli medical staff at the Sheba Medical Center participated Wednesday in a national earthquake drill authorized by the hospital, IDF Home Front Command and the Israel Ministry of Health. The event was part of a series of different drills conducted by Israeli hospitals throughout the country to deal with natural disasters and mass casualty events.
Prof. Yitshak Kreiss, Director General of Sheba Medical Center (former IDF Surgeon General, who was responsible for setting up the IDF’s field hospital on the border with Syria during the Syrian civil war), Maj. General Tamir Yadai, IDF Home Front Command and Prof. Elhanan Bar-On, head of Sheba’s Israel Center for Disaster Medicine and Humanitarian Response, oversaw the drill.
Prof. Bar-On helped create the one-of-a-kind field hospital on the premises of Sheba and devised similar set-ups when asked to bring a disaster response team from Sheba to places like Haiti, Guatemala, Mozambique etc. in the past.
This was the first time, however, that a field hospital was erected on a hospital site to deal with various types of injured patients, highlighted by an ER, triage, surgical theater, lab etc. to operate in times of emergency.
“This hospital would first deal with patients from the hospital if one of the buildings is damaged during a quake,” a spokesperson said. “The field hospital would then deal with incoming wounded from nearby towns and cities, as well as other hospitals that might be damaged (collateral damage) in the aftermath of a quake.”
The drill showcased the treatment of nearly 150 wounded civilians. A fire rescue squad was seen cherry-picking people and patients from the rooftop of the main hospital building, and evacuation of children from the children’s hospital.
Nine inflatable tents that were used in the field hospital are able to be rapidly set up and are transportable, the spokesperson said. “They also can be set up elsewhere throughout the country in times of national emergencies, whether in peace or wartime,” he added.
“This field hospital can be deployed quickly in case of major structural damage to Sheba Medical Center, ensuring continuity of medical services in times of crisis,” Professor Bar-On noted.
“We are the only hospital in Israel that is able to build such a facility with full capabilities in a short period of time in order to create a rapid response. We are proud of our staff, which is able to cope with and operate under duress, whether it’s in our back-yard or overseas, when we are called upon to save lives in faraway places.”