IDF to Establish Field Hospital in Haiti
13 January 2010 , 10:56
Israeli Delegation preparing to aid in Haiti
Israeli delegation members preparing Jan. 14 for their departure to Haiti. Photo: IDF Spokesperson
satellite image of the Haiti aiport
The Haiti airport where the Israeli delegation is scheduled to land. Image: Google Earth
220 members of the Israeli delegation have begun receiving vaccinations and briefings preparing them for their journey to assist the Haiti Disaster Zone.

At this time the members of the delegation of the Home Front Command have begun receiving vaccinations and medical information in preparation for their departure to the Haiti disaster zone. Members of the delegation will receive 5 vaccinations against swine flu, diphtheria, salmonella, yellow fever A and B, and treatment against malaria.

This evening or early tomorrow morning, the IDF delegation is scheduled to depart for Haiti, where they will build a Medical Corps field hospital and will aid in Search and Rescue missions. The delegation will depart in two ELAL charter airplanes: one will carry Medical Corps and Home Front Command personnel, and the other will carry the medical and logistical equipment to be used in the field hospital.

The delegation will consist of approximately 220 people, among whom are Search and Rescue teams of the Home Front Command and medical teams of the Head Medical Officer headquarters. Leading the delegation will be the Commander of the Land Search and Rescue Squadron of the Home Front Command, Brig. Gen. (res.) Shalom Ben-Aryeh. Delegation members are preparing to sty in Haiti for at least two weeks. At the end of this period there will be a situation evaluation to determine if the delegation will continue their activities in the region.

The field hospital will have 40 doctors, 24 nurses, medics, X-Ray technicians and paramedics.  Also to be brought over from Israel to Haiti are: a pharmacy, X-Ray equipment, an interview room for registering wounded people, two surgery rooms, a NICU (neonatal intensive care unit), a pediatrics ward, a maternity ward, a surgical ward and an internal care ward. According to the assessment, the field hospital will treat approximately 500 people per day in addition to performing preliminary surgeries. At this stage about 10 tons of medical equipment will be flown to Haiti from Israel. In total, the field hospital will have about 90 beds, 66 intensive care beds and 2 delivery beds.

In addition, the delegation will be joined by a psychiatrist and a Mental Health Officer who will treat the local wounded population, and if need by, they will also treat the Israeli delegation members.

The Search and Rescue personnel of the Home Front Command will include about 30 searchers and tens of operations personnel, logistics and operational intelligence officials, computer networking and communication department personnel, and search dogs. Additional experts in the search and rescue field and in population aid will join as well.

Members of the preliminary staff that departed on Tuesday to Haiti are currently crystallizing the full picture of the situation in the disaster zone and are coordinating aid activities including organizing transportation and the location for the field hospital until the Israeli delegation arrives. 

The delegation will also include a media pool of reporters (Israeli television cameraman, a radio reporter, a newspaper reporter, and an international reporter) who were chosen in a lottery held by the Reporters’ Union, and was drawn by a lawyer. 

Today all members of the delegation will receive detailed briefing in Ben Gurion Airport by GOC Home Front Command, Maj. Gen. Yair Golan, and by the commander of the delegation, regarding the mission and the actions needed to ensure their personal and medical safety in the region.
The commander of the field hospital to be built in the area, Lt. Col. Dr. Itzik Kries, told the IDF Website, “We are going to build a very large and diversified hospital in the area, which will be able to treat hundreds of injured people. 10 hours after our arrival it will operate in a basic way, and 15-20 hours form our arrival it will be fully operational.”

The commander of the Medical Center, Lt. Col. Moshe Meyuchad from the Medical Corps explained, “The majority of the assistance being sent over is from the existing equipment of the Medical Equipment Center. We are sending over all of the medicines that exist in the hospitals, tens of thousands of syringes, CPR equipment, oxygen bags, respirators and much more equipment. We are also sending equipment that is non-medical, such as sheets, pajamas, crutches, walkers, diapers and pacifiers. We see in this departure a huge opportunity to represent our country and to help a country which was his by a disaster in which the medical infrastructure collapsed. The hospital we will build will give them more then aid, it will give them quality treatment and will save lives.”

Over the years, the Home Front Command has operated in several major crisis zones in the world, acquiring high level skills, both technologically and in the ability to find creative solutions:

Below are a number of examples of the Home Front Command's missions abroad:

Car bomb explosion at the China Hilton Hotel in October, 2004 – Immediately after receiving the initial details of the attack, the Search and Rescue Unit was called to the scene in order to rescue those trapped in the hotel ruins. The staff began intensive activity at the site of the incident in order to evacuate the injured and locate the persons trapped in the ruins.

Kenya 2003 – An aid delegation, headed by the outgoing OC - Home Front Command at the time, Brig. Gen. Eitan Dangot departed for Mombassa following a terror attack at the Paradise Hotel. Dozens were injured, among them 21 Israeli citizens. The mission intended to provide medical aid to those injured in the hotel and to return the Israeli citizens back home at the fastest possible speed. After 12 hours, 270 Israeli citizens were returned to Israel.

Aid to victims of the earthquake in Northwestern Turkey 1999 – Two Search and Rescue delegations were sent to Turkey following the disaster and a field hospital was constructed. The delegation  rescued 12 survivors and 140 victims. The field hospital in Adapazari serviced 1200 injured patients, performed 40 surgeries and delivered 15 babies.

Greece 1999 – Assisting in the search and rescue mission following an earthquake in September 1999.

Car bomb explosion at the American Embassy in Kenya in August, 1998 – Following the explosion of a car bomb in close proximity of the American Embassy in Kenya, the  Search and Rescue Unit worked to locate and evacuate 96 victims. The Israeli delegation received appreciation and recognition from the Kenyan and world public. The Israeli delegation was the first to arrive on the scene from abroad and began its mission immediately. 

Bombing of the Jewish community building in Argentina, June 1994- In which the building collapsed as a result of a car bomb. Over nine days of intensive efforts, the Rescue unit, in cooperation with additional rescue forces, was able to rescue those trapped, among them 81 dead.

Earthquake in Armenia, December 1988- The Search and Rescue Unit, in cooperation with additional forces, operated for 12 days in an attempt to rescue those trapped under the ruins of buildings that collapsed.

Earthquake in Mexico, September 1985- The Search and Rescue Unit, in cooperation with additional forces, operated for 16 days in an attempt to rescue those trapped under the ruins of buildings that collapsed (55 people).