IDF to create flying, swimming field hospitals

Field hospitals will help minimize time it takes to evacuate wounded soldiers, as part of lessons learned after Operation Cast Lead.

Apache helicopter 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Apache helicopter 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
In an effort to minimize the time it takes to evacuate wounded soldiers to a hospital, the IDF has decided to establish field hospitals on board navy vessels and air force transport aircraft in the event of a future conflict with Hizbullah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
The decision was made as part of lessons learned by the IDF following the Second Lebanon War in 2006 and Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip in 2008-2009. In both cases, wounded soldiers were in many cases evacuated by tank or helicopter and then transported to the closest Israeli hospital.
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The Israel Navy plans to establish a hospital aboard one of its Sa’ar 4.5-class vessels which cruise by Gaza or Lebanon and receive patients by sea. This was done in the past, in cases where the soldiers were wounded close to the beach, from where the sea route was the fastest and safest evacuation route.
Each floating hospital could include a number of beds as well as a fully-stocked operating room for complicated procedures.
The establishment of a hospital in the air is slightly more complex due to the difficulty of conducting procedures in mid air and when a plane, for example, encounters turbulence.
Despite the difficulty, the Israel Air Force has decided to establish such a capability, particularly in the event of a future conflict that could take Israeli soldiers and pilots far away from the country to places like Iran. The two options are to either establish the hospital inside a Yasour Sikorsky CH-53 transport helicopter or aboard a Hercules C-130 transport plane.
The IAF’s Unit 669 is currently responsible for search-and-rescue operations and the evacuation of wounded soldiers from the battlefield. The establishment of a field hospital aboard aircraft would enable doctors and medics to perform more surgeries and complicated procedures on seriously-wounded soldiers.