MDA medics demand more protection

Magen David Adom representatives on Thursday called on police and municipal authorities to improve protection for emergency medical personnel, after MDA teams were assaulted twice this week in Acre while trying to care for patients. After the second such assault, in which a paramedic was attacked by a patient's family members as he tried to administer medical care in a house in Acre's old city on Thursday morning, MDA medics complained about the event to local police. Shortly afterwards, the local MDA area supervisor complained that police and municipal authorities were not doing enough to prevent such attacks against the medical workers. In response, police from the Amakim Subdistrict, of which the Acre police station is part, said that four police squad cars under the command of an officer had responded to MDA's request for assistance within two minutes of the call. "I emphasize that every notification by MDA personnel about an attack in all of the stations in Galilee - and specifically in Acre - is taken care of immediately, and it is the medics' obligation in these cases to file an official complaint in a timely manner," said an officer from the subdistrict. He added that the specific incident on Thursday morning had been overseen by the commander of the local police station. Police, however, did not specify whether any suspects had been detained. Following the volleys of accusations and recriminations, a meeting was scheduled to be held with the city's mayor, the local police chief and MDA representatives to discuss ways in which the personal security of medical personnel could be better maintained. Between 60 and 70 such attacks against MDA personnel were documented throughout the past year - an average of over one a week nationwide. Of those, an MDA official said, most have resulted in injuries to MDA workers that required medical attention and even hospitalization. "We view these attacks as extremely serious," said MDA spokesman Yeroham Mandola. "We hope that authorities also view these attacks with due importance, and that they treat them accordingly so that our personnel can feel safe as they carry out their job - to save lives and treat their patients." He called on the criminal justice system to intensify prosecution and punishment for people who attack medical teams. Less than a week ago, a man with a knife entered the MDA station in Dimona and threatened a medic. The situation was only defused after the man turned the knife on himself, injuring himself in the chest. MDA teams at the scene treated the would-be assailant and then took him Beersheba's Soroka Hospital for care. In November, two Acre residents attacked MDA medics as an ambulance carrying the assailants' friend arrived at the emergency room of Western Galilee Government Hospital in Nahariya. One medic was hit in the face, and, as a result, suffered serious trauma to his eye and ear.