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INSIDE SAVING LIVES: Are we ready?

Posted By : Lisa Batchelder July 16, 2015

By Arnold Gerson, AFMDA CEO

Members of the MDA solidarity mission listening to a briefing during Operation Protective Edge.

Members of the MDA solidarity mission listening to a briefing during Operation Protective Edge.

Around this time last summer I was hunkering down in a bomb shelter in an empty Tel Aviv hotel as the red alert siren went off during a solidarity mission supporting my colleagues at Magen David Adom. This summer, my work with MDA led me to the Hamptons for an event at a local synagogue.

At first glance, bomb shelters and sandy beaches couldn’t be more different.

But at the heart of both experiences is one principle that guides all emergency medical first responders and those who support them: preparedness.

When last year’s rocket attacks began and Israel launched Operation Protective Edge, MDA didn’t waste time gathering supplies or strategizing about wartime emergency medical response, because they were prepared in advance. Equipped with fully stocked ambulances and trained to save lives under fire, MDA’s EMTs and paramedics were ready to hit the road the second they heard an explosion.

The year-round support provided by our generous donors was key in raising MDA’s level of preparedness, ensuring that there were ample bandages, splints, syringes, and other urgently needed supplies.

Just as the Israel Defense Forces has to stockpile weapons, MDA needs to stockpile emergency medical equipment.

Which brings us back to the Hamptons. As New Yorkers enjoyed the beach just blocks away, members of the Hamptons Synagogue heard first-hand how preparedness meant the difference between life and death for one Israeli ­last summer — and that now is the time to prepare for the next emergency.

Terror-attack survivor Jehan Berman is reunited with Oren Wacht, the paramedic who saved his life.

Terror-attack survivor Jehan Berman is reunited with Oren Wacht, the paramedic who saved his life.

Together on the bimah, MDA Paramedic Oren Wacht and Jehan Berman, a young father who was almost killed by rocket fire during Operation Protective Edge, recalled how quickly Oren arrived at the scene in a Mobile Intensive Care Unit ambulance.

With jagged pieces of metal piercing his body just inches away from his heart, Jehan may have succumbed to his wounds if not for the speedy and expert advanced life support Oren provided.

Seeing Jehan thriving with energy and life, there’s no question that this time MDA was able to turn a tragedy into a miracle.

But other questions still remain: When will Israel’s citizens again be in danger? Will Israelis face rocket attacks, an earthquake, or another scenario we can’t even imagine?

The best answer to these questions is preparedness. That’s what we learned yet again during Operation Protective Edge, and that’s what we need to communicate to all who want to ensure Israel survives the next conflict.

Over the past few months, there have been more and more one-off terror attacks, including stabbings, car attacks, and rockets that luckily landed in open areas. We don’t know when the next full-blown conflict will occur. But we do know that preparedness will save lives.

And more than save lives, it can even help new life flourish. Just a few months ago Jehan’s wife gave birth to a new baby boy. What could have been a yahrzeit, is instead a birthday.

 

Arnold-Gerson-145x180px-rgb-72dpiThis is the first article in the regular series Inside Saving Lives, where AFMDA CEO Arnold Gerson will share insights about MDA, Israel, and the non-profit world. What would you like Arnold to write about? Send your suggestions to info@afmda.org.

Click here to support MDA’s lifesaving work.

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