Assuta Ashdod University Hospital.
(photo credit: EYAL TOUEG)
A year after opening, Assuta Ashdod Medical Center – the country’s newest public hospital – will hold an intensive drill on October 11 simulating a mass casualty chemical event.
On Sunday, hospital officials met with IDF’s Home Front Command to discuss plans for the simulated chemical event. The drill, involving some 100 patients, will test how the hospital transitions from routine operations into a mass casualty mode, and the effectiveness of its triage and treatment plan.
Hospitals officials explained to the military that patients will be triaged in the short-term parking lot. Chemical attack victims will be washed off in outdoor showers there before being transferred indoors.
“It could be that during the drill we will need to change things but that’s the point of the drill,” said Maj.-Gen. Merav Shavi-Sultan, head of the Hospital Preparations Department in the Home Front Command.
Situated 30 km. north of the Gaza Strip and the first public hospital built in Israel in decades, Assuta Ashdod was built following lessons learned from previous conflicts. More than half of the facility was designed as a bomb shelter to facilitate the hospital functioning during wartime.
During the 2014 Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s fifth largest city was struck by 239 rockets launched from Gaza Strip, including one which hit a gas station setting fire to an oil tank and causing an explosion which seriously wounded one man.
The hospital’s 70,000 sq. m. facility is the first Israeli hospital designed to be able to fully function during chemical and biological weapons events.
While the IDF is not expecting a chemical weapons attack, as a port city Ashdod is at risk of chemical tragedies like the one which occurred in Tianjin, China in 2015 in which 165 people were killed in an explosion at a chemical warehouse at the 10th busiest port in the world.
While the Assuta drill will involve 30 patients in critical condition, the numbers during a real chemical event are expected to be exponentially higher.
“Every five years we have a [military] conflict so we must prepare our hospitals accordingly,” Col. Dr. Olga Polyakov, chief surgeon of the Home Front Command, told The Jerusalem Post. “It’s not that we think there will be another war soon. But we need to be ready and while all are prepared, we understand that some hospitals need more training than others.”
The drill comes shortly after Ziv Medical Center in Safed and Haifa’s Rambam Health Care Campus held drills simulating rocket fire from Hezbollah.
The June drill in Haifa also allowed the hospital to test the functionality of its new underground hospital and command center from which all emergency activities will be managed during wartime.
Rambam, the largest hospital in northern Israel, serves as the regional hospital for all wounded civilians and soldiers in the Galilee during wartime. The 2,000-bed underground center is equipped with its own generators.
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