Hundreds expected to attend upcoming IsCREAM conference

Conference to focus on disaster management and mass casualty evacuation events.

April 17, 2019 17:17
3 minute read.
Hundreds expected to attend upcoming IsCREAM conference

Israeli soldiers from the Home Front Command stand on rubble as they take part in an earthquake drill in Holon, near Tel Aviv October 21, 2012. (photo credit: REUTERS/NIR ELIAS)


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Dozens of top medical practitioners are expected to attend the third annual IsCREAM international medical conference focusing on dilemmas in disaster management and mass casualty evacuations following natural disasters.

Organized by the 669 “Cat” alumni association, the conference on May 21 at Oshiland in Kfar Saba is expecting over 400 people to attend including medical personnel from the IDF, United Hatzalah, MDA, civilian rescue units as well as firefighters and more.

The conference this year will focus on dilemmas in disaster medicine and management in both the military and civilian worlds, Prof. Ari Shamiss, the Chairman of the Scientific Committee of the association and and CEO of Assuta Medical Centers told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.

Innovation, command decisions, reference scenarios and the cooperation between authorities during evacuation and emergency treatment will also be discussed at the conference.

One panel, Shammis told The Post, of the conference will focus on the preparation, planning and response to mass casualty events such as an earthquake in Israel and how the country will react.

A 2016 report by Israel’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee’s Home-Front Readiness Subcommittee found that if Israel were to be struck by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake, an estimated 7,000 people would be killed, another 8,600 injured and 377,000 expected to be left homeless.  In addition, the country could face damages of up to NIS 200 billion.

In addition to buildings being destroyed, the damage to critical infrastructures such as electricity, water and communication is expected to be great. According to Israel’s National Emergency Authority, there are 80,000 buildings, including schools and hospitals, over three stories high that were built before 1980, and not constructed to current standards.

Since the complication of the report, several steps have been taken to improve the country’s readiness. But, there is still much to learn and the conference is the only conference of its kind in Israel which allows for all the rescue and evacuation bodies in the country to come together under one roof.

“Israel is very involved in disaster medicine across the world,” Shamiss said, pointing to the Israeli delegation which took part in rescue operations in Brazil following the January collapse of a dam which killed close to 200 people. The disaster in Brazil will also be discussed during the conference, Shamiss said.

The conference will also be attended by Dr. Homer Tien, head of trauma surgery at Toronto's Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and an army colonel, who will be giving the keynote lecture on Airborne Management of Mass Casualty Incidents in Ontario, Canada.

According to Shamiss, the “Cat” alumni association which has some 4,500 registered members, works as a link between all of the unit veterans in order to maximize the impact of human capital embodied in them for the better good of themselves, the unit and society.

The association also gives grants to 669 veterans who want to study, helps veterans find work and works with startups for technology for pre-hospital management by raising funds and accelerating the start up using the knowledge of the 669 veterans.

The nonprofit alumni association also teaches courses to train Israelis in the proper procedures for medical emergencies, both while travelling in Israel or abroad as well as works to raise the motivation for a meaningful service among Israeli youth and to honor of the Unit's fallen soldiers.

The IDF’s elite Airborne Combat, Search and Rescue Unit 669 is one of the four special forces of the IDF with only 30 graduating the 18 month course out of 1200 cadets who try out for the unit. During the 18 month course soldiers are trained in combat medicine, parachuting, scuba diving, counter-terrorism, rappelling, rescue under harsh conditions, navigation, and the commanders’ course. Soldiers in Unit 669 sign on for an extra 16 months of service on top of their mandatory 30 months.

Formed in 1974 following the Yom Kippur war and initially charged with extracting Israeli pilots who were shot down in enemy territory, it later began undertaking rescue missions of Special Force soldiers as well as injured or stranded Israelis, both at home and abroad.

In the 45 years since the unit was formed, it has rescued over 10,000 people across Israel and the world, receiving several IDF chief of staff commendations for their work.

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