Photo Credit: MDA
A close call: gunshot barely missed the windshield on an MDA intensive care ambulance. Oct. 24, 2023

Magen David Adom is contemplating what emergency response will look like in the face of extensive power outages caused by either a military-style attack or a major natural disaster, as both Israel and Hezbollah ramp up their forces in preparation for an increasingly likely Third Lebanon War.

The Israeli emergency medical response service has begun planning alternative energy sources, creating new emergency “doomsday” protocols and implementing a series of drills to practice for what would be a catastrophic event for any modern society reliant on technology.


The organization has already purchased generators for its stations throughout the country, so that computers at the dispatch centers can continue to track the needs on the ground, says Felix Lotan, senior paramedic and head of MDA’s disaster preparedness.

Israel’s Ministry of Health is working with the organization to catalogue all patients who rely on ventilator support: In the event of a power outage, they will be transported to shelters with sufficient generator capacity to power ventilators.

But generators are of limited value if the national cellular system stops functioning, Lotan says. In such a case, it will be impossible for dispatchers to communicate with medics, or for teams to contact MDA blood services with transfusion requests.

A fully equipped satellite communication system may help solve that problem, says MDA chief operations officer Ido Rosenblat. “If the radio tower has satellite capability, we can operate our communications the same way we usually do,” he explains. “We can use the same infrastructure and equipment, transferring it all to a satellite network.”

MDA is working to increase its satellite capability, while also planning other communication workarounds such as having EMTs driving Medicycles to relay information.

According to Lotan, who has been involved in international relief missions in Haiti, Nepal, and Texas among other locations, having a robust plan of action for major emergencies is just as important as incorporating alternative tech solutions. In the event of a major emergency that compromises communication, each medic will know in advance where to report.

“We know from experience that when Israelis need emergency treatment and can’t call us, they go to MDA stations, local medical clinics, and police stations. We will make sure that as soon as an event occurs, our medics travel to these locations,” Lotan says.

He added that Medicycle and ambulance teams are also being trained to drive through neighborhoods looking for those in need of treatment. If travel to hospitals is deemed impossible, local MDA stations can be transformed into field clinics.

“The most important thing that we’re doing is preparing our teams to react to events with casualties in multiple arenas at the same time,” Lotan says.

Stores of wartime supplies are currently being purchased, including bulletproof ambulances; personal equipment such as headlights, helmets, plank vests, and bulletproof vests; and at least 40 large trailers with vital necessities such as gasoline, water, a generator, medical kits, and stretchers, all of which can be towed to various locations.

Many supplies are being sent to border communities and other vulnerable areas as part of a project that trains community-based teams to act as first responders within communities that are especially at risk for attacks.

As has the IDF, the medical response organization has learned from October 7, and is looking ahead to the possible scenarios that may face its nearly 35,000 EMTs, paramedics, first-aid providers, and other pre-hospital emergency medicine personnel, Lotan says.

“We understand there may be areas where the military will be busy fighting within Israel because Hezbollah is threatening to conquer cities and military bases,” he adds.

“We have a lot of cooperation with the army and the police. We’re preparing for the situation, training with them, doing everything that is needed.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.