MDA raises alert level in North

Magen David Adom upped its level of preparations in the North on Thursday after Katyusha rockets hit the western Galilee. While keeping 150 ambulances on duty in the South, the rescue and first-aid organization now has 150 others in the North. MDA director-general Eli Bin gave orders to be ready for any eventuality, including terrorist attacks - in addition to the 1,400 calls for help that MDA receives on an average day. When an old-age home was hit in Nahariya, elderly residents were fortunately on the lowest floor, MDA said. Within a few minutes, two mobile intensive care units and nine ambulances that were already on high alert arrived at the institution. Medics treated and evacuated three residents who were lightly wounded by glass, concrete and plaster fragments. Thirteen others who suffered anxiety attacks were also taken to the hospital. Paramedic Raviv Avraham, who worked for MDA during the Second Lebanon War, was the first to arrive. "There was much commotion, with people running in all directions and heavy smoke in the corridors and rooms. The scenes of Katyusha attacks during the war returned to me," he said. Nine out of 10 medical staffers at Haifa's Rambam Medical Center developed at least one symptom of stress during the Second Lebanon War two-and-a-half years ago, hinting at the possible effects of Gazan missiles on doctors and nurses in the South now. A study on the need to treat medical professionals for stress during war was just published in the journal Depression and Anxiety by Prof. Ehud Klein, chief of psychiatry at Rambam, and colleagues at the hospital and the University of Haifa's psychology department. Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, which is the hospital closest to the front and the target of Gazan rockets itself, is currently holding workshops for its doctors and nurses to relieve their stress and to try to prevent post-traumatic stress syndrome. The Haifa researchers found that due to intervention, only a 10th of the 450 Rambam doctors and nurses developed long-term symptoms that interfered with their ability to work and function. During the Second Lebanon War, Rambam staffers treated 450 soldiers and civilians suffering from physical wounds and another 350 with serious anxiety and other psychological symptoms. Some 45 Hizbullah missiles fell within 500 meters of Rambam in 2006. The researchers suggested that the collective nature of the trauma and the teamwork of the staff minimized the long-term emotional harm to employees. Meanwhile, the pediatric and adolescent anxiety clinic at Ziv Hospital in Safed reported a 30 percent increase in anxiety sufferers reaching the hospital as a direct result of the Palestinian terrorist attacks on Israelis in the South. Dr. Ma'ayan Ziskind Lev-El, head of the clinic, said that not only do the scenes from the southern communities unnerve the youngsters, but they also fear a return of shelling on the North. She recommended sports and even just walks to minimize the release of adrenalin and other hormones produced in reaction to stress; exercise also improves mood and raises energy levels, she said. The Health Ministry said that residents of the South may take their children to family health (tipat halav) centers anywhere in the country for vaccines and checkups, rather than just the center where they were registered. In addition, pregnant women or women after delivery, as well as children up to the age of five may visit any tipat halav station during the current emergency. The Kav Or volunteer organization, which provides free computer services to children in pediatric wards and sick children in their homes, has invited youngsters in the South to visit its Web site,, without a password. The intention is to enable children in protected rooms and bomb shelters to enjoy the educational and entertainment content of the site. Children can contact or