Israel earns media accolades for disaster efforts

CNN's report compares America's failure to be a major lifesaving force while Israelis came from "the other side of the world" to set up hospital within four hours of arrival.

January 20, 2010 10:14
3 minute read.
haiti quake stretcher 190

haiti quake stretcher 190. (photo credit: Associated Press)


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Israeli medical experts and rescue teams in Haiti have received much positive publicity around the world, as major media outlets have focused on the intense life-saving efforts going on at the IDF field hospital set up in a soccer stadium in the capital Port-au-Prince.

CNN's report compared America's failure to be a major lifesaving force while Israelis came from "the other side of the world" to set up the impressive field hospital within four hours of their arrival in Haiti on Saturday.

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Dr. Jennifer Furin of Harvard Medical School told CNN said that only Israel has managed to provide advanced assistance quickly.

"I've been here since Thursday; no one except the Israeli hospital has taken any of our patients," said Furin. "It's like another world here compared to the other hospitals. They have imaging... my God, they have [scanning] machines here, operating theaters, ventilators, monitoring. It's just amazing."

Asked why the Americans had yet to provide a similar level of service in Haiti, which is located at its back door, the doctor said, "It's a frustrating thing that I really can't explain."

Other laudatory reports about Israeli rescue efforts appeared on the BBC, CBS, ABC and Sky News, as well as in several US newspapers.

Former US president Bill Clinton, who was in Haiti to bring supplies to the victims, praised the Israeli efforts in an interview broadcast on Channel 2 last night.

"The Israelis, who have a lot of battlefield experience, also have a lot of battlefield hospital experience. I'm profoundly grateful to the Israelis, they're doing a great job," said Clinton.

The IDF field hospital and community clinic, set up and staffed by 121 people, have treated hundreds and operated on dozens so far. Two teams consisting of search-and-rescue personnel and canine operators from the IDF canine unit have been sent on rescue missions.

President Shimon Peres on Tuesday spoke by telephone to Shalom Ben-Aryeh, the commander of the Israeli medical search and rescue team. The conversation was conveyed by loudspeaker to all the members of the team.

Peres commended the team as Israel's great ambassadors, noting that its commanders, soldiers, doctors, nurses and volunteers had all answered the call for help and had given their attention to everyone possible.

"The whole country is watching you every day and is concerned for your safety," said Peres, adding that the team had demonstrated the pinnacle of the IDF's ability and willingness to assist in the aftermath of disasters, wherever they occur.

Meanwhile, Magen David Adom's team arrived Tuesday in Haiti as part of a Norwegian Red Cross delegation, in a convoy of trucks packed with tons of medical equipment. The joint team will set up another field hospital to treat the many wounded and sick who have not reached the IDF facility.

A growing number of Haitian earthquake survivors have developed infections. The head of the MDA team, Haim Rachlevsky, said that surprisingly, "most Haitians seem to have returned to their normal routine even though dead bodies remain strewn about. Many thousands of people are living in temporary encampments."

Because of looting, often by armed men, the MDA team was briefed on security and safety. Armed guards from the UN accompany the Red Cross delegations.

MDA expressed disappointment that only a few thousand shekels have so far been donated to its Haiti emergency campaign (the Magen David Adom Trumot Lacarribim Fund at Bank Discount, branch # 151 at Yad Eliahu in Tel Aviv, account # 17926). Although MDA did not arrange for an SMS number for contributing in seconds, it can arrange for collecting money via credit card by calling MDA at (03) 630-0272/3.

Meanwhile, Kupat Holim Meuhedet director-general Shmuel Muallem has asked Deputy Health Minister Ya'acov Litzman for permission to dispatch older but still viable drugs in health fund warehouses to victims of the Haitian earthquake.

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