IDF protective device 248.88.
(photo credit: Yaakov Katz)
The IDF has succeeded in reducing the aerial evacuation time of wounded soldiers from the Gaza Strip by over 50 percent since the Second Lebanon War, to an average of 45 minutes, the officer in charge of coordinating the evacuations told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.
In the Second Lebanon War, aerial evacuations took up to an hour and a half from the moment of injury until arrival at the hospital. Since the beginning of Operation Cast Lead, the IDF has conducted 11 such evacuations from within the Gaza Strip, despite coming under anti-aircraft fire, and their average duration has been 45 minutes.
"No threat stops us from evacuating," said Col. (res.) Nof Erez, head of aerial evacuations in the Gaza Division. "In some cases there were mortars that were fired at the helicopters as they landed."
One evacuation, which Erez believed to be the fastest in recent IDF history, took under 30 minutes. He coordinated the aerial evacuation earlier this week of Lt. Aharon Karov, a platoon commander from the Paratroop Brigade who was critically wounded in a booby-trapped building.
A former deputy head of the Tel Nof air base and currently a senior employee at Israel Aerospace Industries, Erez was responsible for aerial evacuations from Lebanon in 2006.
"I could tell from the sound of the medic's voice that there was a need for an aerial evacuation even before he described the injuries to me," he recalled.
Since the beginning of Operation Cast Lead, 156 soldiers have been wounded in clashes, including 12 seriously; 51 are still hospitalized. Another 10 soldiers were evacuated and treated for emotional trauma.
The IDF Medical Corps has also been using new state-of-the-art medical equipment to treat wounds. One device incorporated into field units is "QuikClot Combat Gauze," which uses a hemostatic agent that coagulates blood. It replaces the "personal bandage" long issued to every IDF soldier upon induction.
A second device is the Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT), a small, lightweight, one-handed device that completely stops arterial blood flow in limbs. The CAT uses a band and buckle to fit a wide range of extremities and sizes.
To protect soldiers, the IDF has issued a second layer of body armor that can stop bullets. The armor slides under the standard ceramic vest, which is capable of stopping shrapnel but not direct gunshots. In one case, a soldier sustained five gunshots to the chest, but none penetrated due to the extra body armor.