IDF Medical Corps: The pulse of a nation

Lt. Avia Nissan, Kfir Brigade nurse, receiving citation of merit from Director General of MDA, Eli Ben. Photo: Technology and Logistics Branch

IDF (Zahal) soldiers supplied a quarter of all blood donations in Israel in 2012; contribution rates continue to grow into 2013 thanks to the Medical Corps

Date: 25/04/2013, 10:54 AM     Author: IDF (Zahal) Website and Roni Tzidon, Technology and Logistics Branch

IDF (Zahal) soldiers contributed a quarter of all blood donations in Israel in 2012 according to details revealed at a Medical Corps ceremony last week. The special ceremony was held to honor those units deemed outstanding in their efforts towards contributing to the national blood bank. IDF (Zahal) Chief Medical Officer Brig. Gen Itzik Kryce and Director General of Magen David Adom (MDA), Eli Ben attended the event.

Further details revealed in the course of the ceremony pointed to a 2.5 percent increase in the level of blood contributions from IDF (Zahal) soldiers since the beginning of 2013, a trend credited largely to joint efforts driven by the Medical Corps and MDA.

“The IDF (Zahal) is a place in which there are always donors,” explained Professor Ayelet Shenar, director of MDA’s blood services. “It is touching that the battalions, so busy with operational activity, find the time amid their activity to donate [blood] to the people of Israel. There are units that we can really count on in the time of need to donate to us,” she said.

Units recognized for their outstanding contributions were awarded citations of merit by Brig. Gen. Kryce. “For soldiers, you don’t need to explain why it’s important to give blood,” the chief medical officer said. He added that all soldiers and commanders present should be proud knowing  that their contributions assisted in saving lives.

Ongoing humanitarian work

The blood drive is the latest in the Medical Corp’s long list of contributions to humanitarian causes in Israel and around the world. The IDF (Zahal)’s code of ethics obligates its soldiers to protect human dignity regardless of “origin, religion, nationality, gender, status or position” – a value which is expressed by the work of the Medical Corps on a daily basis.

Every day, IDF (Zahal) medical teams provide emergency treatment to dozens of Palestinians from Judea and Samaria and Gaza in need of acute care. In a recent incident, a Gaza infant born with a severe congenital heart defect was treated by an IDF (Zahal) medical team while they transported the child into Israel for further intensive care.

In recent months IDF (Zahal) forces have provided emergency care to Syrian casualties from the ongoing violent internal conflict there.

The Medical Corps’ humanitarian work has not been restricted by geography or politics. The IDF (Zahal) has consistently sent delegations of highly trained medical officers and search and rescue teams to disaster zones across the globe.

On January 15, 2010, an IDF (Zahal) aid delegation landed in disaster-stricken Haiti just three days after a catastrophic magnitude 7.0 earthquake had shaken the nation. The earthquake and subsequent aftershocks led to heavy civilian losses and created a devastating humanitarian crisis. The numbers were frightening: over 300,000 dead – the second-deadliest earthquake in history – another 300,000 injured and over a million left homeless.

In response to the disaster, the IDF (Zahal) sprung into action, volunteering to aid in the search and rescue efforts and to provide medical care. It quickly carried out an initial assessment and assembled a team of search, rescue and medical emergency personnel to travel to Haiti, equipped with the necessary tools, where they set up the first field hospital on the ground.

After the earthquake that devastated Japan in April, 2011, a team of 50 IDF (Zahal) Medical Corps personnel carrying 80 tons of equipment and humanitarian aid arrived to set up a field clinic and assist in caring for thousands of casualties.

In the past, IDF (Zahal) search and rescue and medical teams have taken part in life-saving efforts following natural disasters in Mexico (1985), Armenia (1988), Greece (1999), Turkey (1999), Egypt (2004), and Kenya (2006).

Maj. Monir Nabawani, a Druze medical officer who assists in transferring Palestinian patients into Israel for emergency treatment, expressed the wish that the Medical Corp’s work will shine a light for the world on Israel’s commitment to humanitarianism. “It’s a small hope, but we will continue to help regardless. It’s what we are fundamentally taught to do as Israeli citizens, and as soldiers in the IDF (Zahal),” he said.