Haifa police commander fighting for her life

Ahuva Tomer, who rushed to the blaze to direct operations, rescue trapped Prison Service cadets, is in critical condition.

December 3, 2010 07:40
3 minute read.
Haifa Police Asst.-Cmdr. Ahuva Tomer.

Haifa police commander 311. (photo credit: Channel 10 News)

Cmdr. Ahuva Tomer has always been a fighter, but on Thursday night the Haifa Police Commander fought for her life in Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center. Tomer was in critical condition after rushing into the flames to find out the condition of the dozens of Prisons Service cadets trapped in the deadly blaze.

Tomer was captured on camera minutes before the tragedy, driving together with a staff officer toward the blaze, telling reporters that she was on her way to check first-hand what the situation was in the Carmel Forest. Seconds before she sped off in her police car, Tomer expressed concern for mothers and children in nearby Kibbutz Beit Oren, who were being evacuated.

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Tomer continued to issue commands over her field radio until she became trapped in the blaze, and the commands became urgent cries for assistance. By the time rescuers reached the senior commander, she was badly burned all over her body.

After being rushed to the hospital, medical teams spent two hours resuscitating her, then transferring her to the burn unit at Rambam, where doctors say the situation remains touch-and-go.

In an era when senior police officers tend to reach the headlines for negative reasons, Tomer has consistently made headlines as a groundbreaker in the Israel Police.

In 1997, Tomer became the first woman commander of an Israel Police station, taking command of police in the northern city of Nahariya. In December 2006, Tomer became the first female district-level operations commander in the Israel Police, serving as operations commander in the Northern District. The Northern District is comparable to the Northern Command in the IDF, and no woman in the IDF or in the police had ever held such a high rank in the field of operational command.

Less than three years later, Tomer again made history when she was appointed to lead the massive Haifa Station and became the first woman to command a major police station, with over 500 police under her direct command.

Tomer tended to downplay her accomplishments, and shortly after her history-making appointment in 2006, she told The Jerusalem Post that she did not see the promotion as exceptional.

“I have frequently been the first woman to hold the position in almost all of the positions that I have held in the police,” she explained. “I don’t feel like I’m special. I do function in a predominantly male society, but I am an equal among equals and I try to be the best I can. But women need to understand that this is not just a question of equality of opportunity, but also equality of responsibility.”

The field commander also said that she hoped to continue to advance through the police ranks. “This organization enables women to get to where they want, but they have to prove that they are as good or better than their male counterparts, and have to work hard for it.”

She added that she had yet to see a position “that a female officer cannot do as well or better than her male counterparts.”

Even when serving in other positions, Tomer retained a soft spot in her heart for the Haifa police, which she described as “a family in which there are excellent police and excellent officers who work excellently together.”

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