As the conditions of the IDF troops seriously wounded in the anti-Hamas operation in the West Bank continue to improve, a senior IDF medical officer said that the two men might not have survived if not for the quick thinking of the paramedic who treated them.
“They got the most advanced medical treatment in the world,” the senior officer said. “Those two men, anywhere else in the world, would have likely died before getting to the hospital. The chances of getting to the hospital alive were really small.”
Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa, where the two men are being treated, announced Monday that their conditions were improving. One of them regained consciousness and is expected to be removed from a ventilator, and has communicated with his family. The other is scheduled to undergo a lengthy operation for his wounds.
The two troops, a platoon commander and his soldier, were seriously injured during a firefight in the West Bank village of Burkin when they engaged armed Palestinian terrorists. The IDF’s preliminary investigation is looking into the circumstances surrounding their injuries but is leaning towards the possibility that they were injured by friendly fire.
One of the men was shot in the chest and lost one of his lungs while the other man was shot in the jaw and stomach. The two are also suffering from shrapnel wounds.
“They were very seriously injured... and from the moment they were shot, the 18-year-old EMT-P went straight to treat them. The time we have to get to an injured person and give them medical treatment is seconds,” the officer said, adding that while “most armies around the world have their paramedics in the back, in the IDF they are in the front.”
According to the officer, Sgt. T controlled the hemorrhaging of the soldiers to stop their bleeding, performed a chest drainage, and intubated one of the men. The paramedic also did three additional things that saved the lives of the troops: he provided freeze-dried plasma, gave them TXA and actively decided only to intubate one of them.
The powdered, freeze-dried plasma given to the troops helped to clot their blood and prevented the badly wounded men from bleeding to death on the battlefield. TXA (tranexamic acid) meanwhile helps to stabilize the patient by coagulating the blood. Both were carried in the vest of the paramedic.
Then he chose to go outside the protocol and not to do something.
“Our reflex is to go to someone who is severely injured and intubate them. But, what we’ve found over the last decade is that such a decision is not always best. If you have a bleeding problem then intubation might help, but if you are bleeding and have low blood pressure it can actually harm the patient,” the senior officer said.
“We’ve found that with specific types of casualties, intubation actually hastens their deaths because you put pressure on the lungs and heart and reduce their already low blood pressure even more.”
Had Sgt. T intubated the second man who had been shot in the lungs, “he might not have made it to the hospital.”
It was a “very challenging scenario” and the paramedic “did a really great job under fire,” the senior medical officer said. “We all do our best to save our troops. There’s no technology in the world that we don’t use. We are very aggressive in adopting new technology and even admitting when we are wrong. We keep on changing, all the time.”
According to the officer, it took approximately an hour from the time the two were injured until they reached Rambam in Haifa. They were evacuated by helicopter and given several whole blood transfusions while en route. When they reached the hospital, their Ph level was so severe that their lives were at risk.
“Just imagine what their state could have been had they not received all the treatment that they did in the field.”
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi visited the two injured soldiers on Monday and told their families that the two are “warriors” who showed “great courage” during the operation.
“It is important for you to know that if we had not stopped this network, of the Hamas terrorist organization, they would have been at an advanced stage and would have carried out attacks in Israeli cities,” he said. “Your sons prevented these attacks.”