A year ago, St.-Sgt. Nadav Arbeli, a combat medic with the IDF’s Arava Regional
Brigade, was sitting at his headquarters when a call came in from nearby Moshav
A blast tore through a facility belonging to the Mekorot
national water company, where employees had come to repair a pipe, releasing
toxic substances into the air and leaving several people seriously injured and
Arbeli, together with an army doctor in the reserves and a
team of medics, got into a new IDF ambulance and raced to the
Despite being told not to enter, the doctor rushed to the victims
and began reviving them, while Arbeli and other medics began oxygen treatments
and other attempts to secure the airways of the unconscious victims struggling
Air ambulances from the air force’s Airborne Rescue And
Evacuation Unit 669 and Magen David Adom ferried the injured to Soroka
University Medical Center in Beersheba.
One person died, but four were
saved thanks to Arbeli and his team. Their quick response was made possible by
an IDF decision in June 2011 to set up a medical unit that would not only serve
the recently established Arava Brigade, but also the civilians of the area, who
live more than 100 kilometers away from the nearest hospital.
will complete his service next month, told The Jerusalem Post
that it was hard
work to get the fast-response medical unit set up.
The specifications were
demanding, he recounted.
“Our task was to set up a new medical clinic
that will serve all of the soldiers’ needs and an ambulance that will cover a
sector stretching for 200 kilometers. It’s the only ambulance service for
civilians on the southern stretch of Route 90,” he said.
in this isolated desert area have their own medics but limited response
capabilities, and since 2011 they have been depending on the IDF in emergency
“The ambulance has a team of medics, a doctor in the
reserves, an incident manager, and a driver. What we set up is not inferior to
MDA’s standards. We’ve responded to many incidents. Residents have learned to be
in touch with us and call us directly,” Arbeli explained.
The idea of
providing miltary- ambulance service to civilians was the result of a growing
number of requests from local communities, Arbeli said. “This forced us to carry
out an organizational shift. We once used larger military medical
equipment... We’ve modified our weapons to make entering homes
With many of the small communities in the area populated with
senior citizens, issues such as heart attacks, as well as asthma and
life-threatening injuries, have led to call-outs.
In medical emergencies,
the IDF team provides life-saving treatment on the scene, seeking to stabilize
the patients’ condition while awaiting air ambulances, according to
With Josephtal Medical Center in Eilat and Soroka University
Medical Center both an hour and a half away, such speedy responses have saved
“Before 2011, on many occasions, injured people had to wait
for air ambulances or for Magen David Adom to reach them before getting
treatment,” Arbeli said.
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