When catastrophe strikes the IDF is there to help

Over the years, the Israel Defense Force’s (IDF) humanitarian aid has served as a source of relief for people all over the world.

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When countries have been struck by natural disasters, the IDF regularly lends a helping a hand and has sent delegations of medical and rescue staff to those places. The delegations consist mostly of specially trained reserve soldiers from the IDF’s Search and Rescue Unit.

In total, 24 delegations have been sent to 22 countries that have been struck by disasters in the last 30 years. This has happened twice already in the Philippines. When typhoon Haiyan devastated large parts of the Islands, Israel sent an IDF delegation consisting of 147 soldiers including medics and logistic personnel as well as search and rescue forces. They treated over 2,600 patients in their field hospital of which 848 were children. 60 surgeries were performed and the IDF Gynecological team was involved in around 36 births. Four years prior the IDF already sent a delegation after tropical storm Ketsana struck the Philippines. When an earth quake struck Turkey in 2011, Israel offered help. Initially the offer was refused but Ankara eventually agreed to allow the Israeli troops to support the Turkish teams in search and rescue efforts.

Other examples of Israeli support were in the aftermath of the tsunami in Japan (2011), the earth quake in Haiti (2010) the floods in Burkina Faso (2009) and in the Balkan region (2014).

The latest humanitarian aid mission was to Nepal when the country was struck by an earth quake measured at 7.8 on the Richter scale. Israel deployed the second largest delegation to Nepal. The 260-member team included 40 medical personnel. According to Colonel Yoram Larado, head of the IDF humanitarian delegation to Nepal, the delegation wanted to achieve three main goals: To deploy major search and rescue operations, treat patients in their field hospitals and to help the Nepalese people.

When the IDF left Nepal in mid-May, they had treated 1,600 patients, performed 85 life-saving surgeries and delivered 8 babies. The medical team brought high quality technical equipment like x-rays machines, operating rooms and laboratories. A new system for the administration of the patients was put in place. A picture of each patient was taken and a unique barcode was given to each patient who arrived at the field hospital. The barcode was then scanned at every station the patient went through. By doing so, an internal digital medical file was created for every patient. Thus, the doctors had easy access to all medical information and treatments of each patient.

Medical clowns were also part of the team. These clowns are Israeli artists that have been trained to deal with hospital patients. For several moments, they helped to relieve the mental and psychological suffering of the patients through the power of laughter when they infected young and old with their natural joviality.

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