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The Israel Trauma Coalition (ITC) and American Jewish fundraisers will join forces in an effort to teach professionals to help Katrina hurricane victims in the southern US to cope with trauma.
The binational preparedness consortium was announced on Monday in Jerusalem by New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton during a stop at the Jerusalem Fire Brigade in the Givat Mordechai neighborhood along with heads of the ITC and the UJA Federation of New York, which helps fund the ITC.
Clinton, who was presented with a red fireman's helmet, told guests that Israel and the US, both targeted by terror, have a lot to teach and learn from each other. She noted that Israel, which has excelled in organizing skilled infrastructure for coping with terror, has taught the US since September 11 that preparedness - and not only rushing in afterwards to help victims - is vital. After 9/11, a support system was set up by the ITC and American organizations that exchanges information and expertise, and many teachers and parents know how to recognize early signs of trauma.
The first Israeli expert to train Americans on coping with trauma after 9/11, she said, was Dr. Danny Brom, chairman of the ITC and a founder of Herzog Hospital's Center for the Treatment of Trauma. Brom, co-author of an English-language text on dealing with emotional trauma, sat next to Clinton and said his coalition - comprised of some 40 Israeli organizations that deal with trauma victims - would be happy to provide training and guidance for those who will work with hurricane victims, as it did working in Beslan with terror victims and in Sri Lanka with tsunami survivors.
"You have become experts in this field," said the Democratic senator, even though Israel certainly never sought to excel in it. "We in New York look to you for help."
Clinton facilitated funding for the consortium, which will provide school- and community-based intervention for dislocated hurricane victims who lost "everything, their family members, homes, jobs and communities."
Clinton noted that American agencies also learned from Israel the importance of providing emotional support to first responders - firemen, policemen, construction workers and others - in catastrophes.
Steely-eyed firefighter of 13 years Assaf Abras said that the terror war against Israel has left emotional scars even on him and his colleagues, and that when he was hosted at a New York City fire station, he "immediately felt at home. We are one big family."
Riding in a US consulate van with a police escort to the Romema neighborhood, Clinton went to the city's Magen David Adom station and tried her hand at "resuscitating" a mannequin under instruction from an MDA paramedic. She was presented with an MDA vest by MDA blood services director Prof. Eilat Shinar and declared a life member of the organization for her intensive efforts towards getting the International Red Cross Movement to recognize Israel's 75-year-old first-aid and blood supply organization as a full-fledged member.