Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa held a last drill on Tuesday to simulate moving hundreds of patients and entire intensive care units down three levels into a fortified underground hospital, which will normally be used as a car park during peacetime.
Eight years and 420 million NIS in the making, the Sammy Ofer Fortified Underground Emergency Hospital is designed to protect up to two thousand bed-bound patients of northern Israel in times of war, making it the largest hospital bomb shelter in the world.
The drill allowed hospital staff to practice transfer of patients, acted out by young army volunteers, and equipment to designated locations on each of the floors of the underground hospital, including complex dialysis and surgical equipment to re-assemble operating rooms and intensive care units.
Miles of wiring and piping built into the walls and ceiling would enable all the communication, oxygen and vacuum systems infrastructure required to convert the car park into a fully-functioning hospital within 72 hours. In case of a war, air vents and entrances would be closed within the bottom two floors, while independent air, electricity and water supplies would allow the underground hospital to be entirely sealed off from the outside world for up to 72 hours if needed.
In a real war situation, Rambam hospital staff would be assisted in moving everyone and thing underground by the Home Front Command, Ministry of Health, Magen David Adom, and Haifa Municipality.
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