IDF upgrading search and rescue services

Airborne hospitals created under concerns home front will be bombarded by missiles during future conflicts, to provide wounded soldiers better treatment.

September 12, 2011 03:01
2 minute read.
Prime Minister Netanyahu visits wounded soldier

Netanyahu visits wounded soldier in hospital 311. (photo credit: Moshe Milnr / GPO)


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The IDF has decided to upgrade its medical evacuation capabilities and to provide search-and-rescue teams with the ability to conduct complicated surgical procedures aboard helicopters and transport aircraft.

The decision is aimed at increasing the air force’s search-and-rescue unit 669 and to enable its medics and doctors to perform complicated procedures and even surgeries while in the air, due to growing threats far away from Israel’s borders.

Unit 669 is one of the IDF’s most elite units and regularly receives visits from foreign militaries. Unit members recently participated in joint drills with the Romanian and Greek air forces.

“It is critical that wounded soldiers receive the best treatment as quickly as possible during what is known as the Golden Hour,” a senior officer explained.

“To make this happen we need to enable the unit to perform more complicated procedures.”

The decision to establish an airborne hospital came after a comprehensive review in the IDF. The airborne hospital can potentially be setup in both Sikorsky CH-53 transport helicopters and C-130 transport aircraft.

Part of the decision stems from an IDF assessment that in future conflicts on various fronts it could potentially take too long to evacuate soldiers to hospitals inside Israel due to military operations that might be conducted far from Israel’s borders.

Meanwhile Sunday, the IDF Home Front Command began an international seminar with military officers from a number of different countries to discuss civil defense cooperation ahead of a future conflict.

The seminar will end on Thursday and was attended by 29 foreign officers from five different countries. During the seminar, the attendees hear lectures from IDF officers from the Home Front Command and Israel Police, tour different bases and participate in simulations and drills.

“The focus is on the civilian population – how to prepare civilians, deliver instructions to the public and explain developments,” explained Lt.-Col. Itay Peleg, commander of the course.

On Sunday, OC Home Front Command Maj.-Gen. Eyal Eisenberg warned that the Israeli public would face a significant bombardment of missiles in a future conflict.

The public’s ability to sustain the attacks would determine the length and outcome of the conflict, he said.

“We are seeing everything larger, longer-range and intended to cause greater damage to the home front,” Eisenberg said during a homeland security conference organized by Technologies Group near Ben-Gurion Airport.

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