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MDA takes command during national mass casualty drill

Posted By : Leah Breevoort June 4, 2015

At 7:05 p.m. on Tuesday, June 2, sirens rang out across Israel as civilians rushed to bomb shelters. Magen David Adom, the Israel Defense Forces, and other civil services launched a nation-wide response. But this wasn’t an attack. It was the annual Turning Point preparedness drill, because if there is one thing Israel knows best, it’s to be prepared for anything at anytime.

MDA simulating an attack involving an overturned train and mass-casualties.

MDA simulating an attack involving an overturned train and mass casualties.

Since 2007, the Turning Point drill has been held to test Israel’s ability to deal with catastrophes involving mass casualties, including natural disasters, chemical warfare, and an all out attack from multiple borders. The need for such a drill became apparent after the 2006 Lebanon War, when the north was targeted by thousands of Hezbollah rockets, revealing major shortcomings in Israel’s response to such an attack. Today, multiple agencies collaborate for an entire week of training exercises.

MDA works in collaboration with IDF officers and border police.

MDA works in collaboration with IDF officers and border police.

Magen David Adom directed a training exercise on Thursday in Kiryat Gat, in southern Israel, simulating a train derailing during a cyber attack that rendered all phone lines and the Internet inoperable. MDA’s 4×4 command and control vehicle was dispatched to the scene to establish alternate communication systems using satellite connections. The command vehicle, which was built specifically for MDA, is also equipped with cameras that can rise over 62 feet in the air and transmit details of the scene to the command and control center hundreds of miles away. During the drill, the command and control vehicle helped mobilize the first response teams and evacuate injured civilians from the overturned train. Throughout the week, MDA participated in multiple exercises like this one, covering a variety of scenarios.

4x4 Command Cars are equipped with ambulance-tracking GPS, a high-tech communications system, and a camera and lights that telescope from the roof to provide live video feedback to MDA's dispatch center.

4×4 Command Cars are equipped with ambulance-tracking GPS, a high-tech communications system, and a camera and lights that telescope from the roof to provide live video feedback to MDA’s dispatch center.

“Thanks to the MDA drills throughout the years MDA is ready and prepared in the best possible manner for real time events,” said MDA Director General Eli Bin. “MDA, as the national rescue organization of Israel, continues to develop and advance with professional technology in order to supply the best and highest quality medical and humanitarian response. The new MDA command and control vehicle is an example of the capabilities of the organization to deal with the tasks and challenges facing it even under the most difficult situations.”

MDA Director General Eli Bin reviewing the activities of the organization with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

MDA Director General Eli Bin reviewing the activities of the organization with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

MDA Director General Eli Bin also spoke about the financial challenges that can arise during mass casualty emergencies. Although MDA is mandated by the Israeli government to serve as the official emergency response agency, it does not receive any government funding so they rely on donations year-round to ensure they are prepared whenever a disaster may strike.

To support MDA’s lifesaving efforts, you can donate here.

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