Meet the Givati Brigade’s Forward Resuscitation Company

The unit’s expert reservists are tasked with providing medical care to soldiers injured in combat

Date: 09/12/2012, 7:12 PM     Author: Noam Witman

The Givati Brigade’s Forward Resuscitation Company is a reserve company composed mostly of soldiers who began their service in this brigade – professionals who serve today as specialist doctors, paramedics, anesthesiologists, surgeons, and more. During emergencies, the Company’s role is critical in saving soldiers’ lives in combat, as it establishes forward facilities in which to provide advanced medical care to injured soldiers – equipped with respirators, blood transfusion equipment, and other equipment for intensive care.

A number of weeks before Operation Pillar of Defense, the Forward Resuscitation Company held an exercise in which its soldiers practiced activities including loading resuscitation equipment, marching long distances with heavy weights, setting up facilities, treating casualties and traveling in armored vehicles.

“The goal of the exercise is to maintain the Company’s fitness in medical and organizational matters,” explained the Givati Brigade’s medical officer, Cpt. Michael Malkin. “What makes the drill different from regular exercises is the fact that we decided to focus on basic combat fitness at the expense of specialized medical content. We have high confidence in the company’s professional capabilities, so it is important for us to increase its fitness for urban combat, traveling on foot with equipment and deploying it.”

The Forward Resuscitation Company began the exercise with an eight-kilometer march, carrying all the gear required for treating casualties. “It had been a while since we had done such a strenuous march with heavy equipment, but we succeeded in the mission together as a company, and that gives us a sense of pride that we met our goal,” said Sgt. First Class (res.) Uriel Mandiuk.

After the march, the second stage of the training began – treating casualties. The casualties were played by new recruits in the brigade, who traveled to the compound in an armored personnel carrier (APC). “It doesn’t happen often that we train with an APC,” noted Maj. (res.) Avi Shina.

Following his son to Givati

As the “casualties” exited the APC, the first one to receive them was Cpt. (res.) Sergei Dometchik who, when not on reserve duty, is a senior general surgeon. He evaluated the condition of the casualties and assigned each of them to the appropriate medical treatment.

Cpt. (res.) Dometchik, a volunteer in the company, was never recruited for regular service. He immigrated to Israel at the age of 25, and therefore was not obliged to serve – yet he chose to volunteer for reserve duty in the Givati Brigade, following his son who also serves with Givati.

“I very much wanted to contribute, and I saw that many of my friends are military doctors,” Cpt. (res.) Dometchik remarked, “I went to the reserve officers course and after a lot of effort I managed to arrive at the company.”

Besides his service in the forward resuscitation company, Cpt. (res.) Dometchik also performs reserve duty in an elite Air Force unit, and he was a member of the delegation sent to Burgas following the terror attack against Israeli tourists in the Bulgarian city.

A successful and realistic exercise

In the second stage of the exercise, the casualties were widely dispersed, adding the element of navigation to the exercise. “It’s important to practice each of these scenarios and to prepare [the soldiers] so they’ll know how to operate in time of war,” explained the Brigade Medical Officer.

“The exercise prepared me even more for a real-life scenario; it gave us an image of what happens in an unfamiliar place,” explained First Sgt. Eldar Shukron, an intensive care medic. “A lot of what contributes to success is the people of the company. These are professional people, academics, who understand the importance of working together.”

After a long week of training, the members of the forward resuscitation company finally fell asleep in the troop carrier, exhausted and satisfied. “During [Operation Pillar of Defense], we understood how great the importance of this exercise was, and that the training contributed greatly to the soldiers’ sense of security,” the commander of the Resuscitation Company told the IDF (Zahal) Website. “The exercise was a success.”