collapsed building in Concepcion.
(photo credit: AP)
Although a five-day Israeli course taught in Chile on trauma emergency and mass
casualty situations was initiated over six months ago, it came in very handy
when it finally took place last week, as the South American country was hit by a
powerful earthquake in April and is still coping with its aftermath.
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course was given by a team headed by experts from Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center,
who returned a few days ago from Chile, where they found a lack of preparedness
among many institutions and an urgent need for Israeli knowhow.
course was offered in Santiago to 300 medical personnel, among them senior
members of Chile’s air and ground forces, as well as representatives of its
rescue units and police force. News of the Israeli delegation spread, and 12
doctors and nurses from Paraguay also showed up.
The April earthquake,
which registered 8.8 on the Richter scale, was followed by a tsunami on the
country’s southern coast. The catastrophe destroyed entire areas and caused the
collapse of numerous structures, the Rambam experts said.
The course was
initiated by Dr. Alfredo Mizrahi, a Jewish local physician who works in
Santiago’s Las Condes Hospital.
Mizrahi, a longtime friend of Rambam,
initiated the first such course in Chile – on organizing a trauma center – two
years ago. The recent course, held under the auspices of the Jewish community,
included lectures and workshops.
Three Rambam representatives led the
Moshe Michaelson, director of the trauma unit; Gila
Hyams, head of the Teaching Center for Trauma and Mass Casualty Situations; and
public relations director Nurit Naeh.
The delegation also included Dr.
Leon Poles from Rehovot’s Kaplan Medical Center, who is an expert in chemical
warfare and mass casualty events; Dr. Amir Blumenfeld, former head of IDF Trauma
Unit and a Health Ministry adviser on mass casualty events; and Chaim
Rafalowski, Magen David Adom’s Chilean-born representative of emergency
“The delegation members presented a broad array of ways to deal
with these events,” said Michaelson, adding that “the response was incredible –
the participants were hungry for knowledge.
They didn’t stop showing
interest and asking questions, and at the end of the course, we received many
offers for cooperation and additional courses.”
A day before the course
began, the delegation toured the tsunami disaster site, which is being restored,
partly with the support of the country’s 15,000-member Jewish community, which
also donated two ambulances. These were dedicated at a ceremony attended by the
Israeli delegation members, the regional governor and health minister and
representatives of the Jewish community.
“The pictures here are very
difficult. Four months after the disaster, there is still damage everywhere.
Where hospitals once stood, there are now tents,” said Hyams, who added that the
Jewish community’s assistance has been very significant.
“I was so
excited to hear about the heroism of the medical teams that worked in such awful
conditions during the catastrophe,” she added.
During the tour, the
delegation met with Dr. Daniela Guede, a young doctor who arrived in the
shortly before the earthquake and remained to treat the injured.
doctor, who also took part in the Rambam course, had met several months
Maj.-Gen. Elon Glazberg, head of the IDF trauma unit, who came to learn
Chilean experience in coping with earthquakes. During his stay, Glazberg
Guede on how to reorganize her clinic, which was destroyed in the
moved to a temporary shelter.
Rambam’s Teaching Center is widely known
for its experience in treating war wounded along Israel’s northern
border and in
accepting difficult trauma cases referred from other northern hospitals.
Representatives from Rambam’s School for Organization and Treatment of
travel around the world, and the center recently held a course in trauma
medical personnel in NATO countries.