On high alert: Emergency services brace for Yom Kippur

Ahead of this year’s fast, MDA has urged those fasting to drink two liters of water Tuesday afternoon and to avoid drinking caffeinated and sugary drinks in order to remain hydrated.

September 17, 2018 20:24
2 minute read.
MDA ambulance

A Magen David Adom ambulance stands by near the Western Wall. (photo credit: MAGEN DAVID ADOM)


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Emergency services across the country will be on their highest level of alert on Yom Kippur as hot and humid weather is set to continue during the 25-hour fast commencing Tuesday evening.

National ambulance service Magen David Adom (MDA) will bolster the number of medical personnel on standby during the holiday, which regularly sees a sharp rise in individuals requiring medical attention.

Last year, MDA medics were dispatched to treat more than 2,000 people during the fast, including 228 people who fainted or suffered from dehydration.

Some 1,355 people were evacuated by MDA to hospital, including 134 pregnant women in labor, as well as children and adults injured in road and cycling accidents.

Ahead of this year’s fast, MDA has urged those fasting to drink two liters of water Tuesday afternoon and to avoid drinking caffeinated and sugary drinks in order to remain hydrated throughout the holiday.

It is also advised to eat a range of food groups during the pre-fast meal, including complex carbohydrates, protein and vegetables. Foods with a high salt content are not recommended as they may increase thirst.

The sick, elderly and pregnant women are advised to consult with a doctor prior to fasting, especially individuals suffering from renal failure, heart disease, atherosclerosis, cancer and recipients of kidney, heart and liver transplants due to the fear that symptoms could deteriorate should medicine not be taken.

Individuals diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure, epilepsy and overactive or underactive thyroids should also consult with medical professionals prior to fasting.

Children, especially those fasting for the first time, and the elderly are at increased risk of dehydration during the fast. If symptoms of dehydration are identified, such as weakness, dizzyness, nausea or vomiting, MDA should be called immediately.

Every year, MDA is called to assist hundreds children and teenagers who have injured themselves while riding bicycles, skateboards, rollerblades and scooters on the country’s empty roads during Yom Kippur.

Five times as many accidents of this type are recorded on Yom Kippur compared to a normal day on Israel’s roads and highways, and parents are urged to supervise their children and ensure that helmets are worn while riding.

Following the conclusion of the fast on Wednesday evening, it is recommended to consume a warm, although not hot, drink, followed by a slice of cake or two slices of bread with cheese. An hour later, a light meal should be eaten.

“On the holiest day for the Jewish people, during which millions of Jews fast and spend time in synagogues, MDA will be at its highest state of readiness in order to assist society if needed,” said MDA director general Eli Bin.

“MDA teams will be spread out across the country, including hundreds of ambulances, intensive care units and MDA motorbikes, ready for every scenario,” Bin added.

“On-call MDA personnel fasting and praying at synagogue will be equipped with special first-aid and resuscitation kits and will administer medical treatment and save lives if needed. I wish all Israelis a meaningful fast and may you be inscribed in the Book of Life.”

Individuals seeking emergency assistance during Yom Kippur should call MDA on 101 or use the “My MDA” smartphone app.

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