"We will be better prepared to provide medical care at sea"

IDF (Zahal) Medical Corps officer talks about the challenges of responding to multi-casualty events at sea

Date: 22/01/2012, 6:50 PM     Author: Avihai Chiim, Idan Sonsino

“We have learned a lot from the provocative flotillas at sea, since the Marmara, and we will be much better prepared for the next flotilla,” Lt. Col. Dr. Elon Glasberg, head of the IDF (Zahal) Medical Corps’s trauma branch, said last week in regard to lessons learned about treating and evacuating injured persons at sea.

“In a multi-casualty event at sea, where there are many wounded on board, it is particularly difficult to operate because of distance and limitations of medical supplies,” Lt. Col. Glasberg said. “Following the flotilla, we incorporated a number of important lessons that have made us better prepared for the next flotilla.”

Among other things, Lt. Col. Glasberg addressed the matter of command and control. Due to distance, there are many technical difficulties in communications during events at sea.

Lt. Col. Glasberg referred to the initial care provided to wounded persons, determined by the severity of the injuries.

“The decision on who will be treated first is crucial to saving lives,” Lt. Col. Glasberg said.

Evacuation challenges and operating according to complex time schedules have also received much attention.

“Placing soldiers on ships via ropes, unloading equipment, and providing complex care under the noise and wind of helicopters take longer,” Lt. Col. Glasberg said. “From now on, we will build schedules in a smarter way.”

“We learned the lessons of the flotilla and we understand that it is very difficult to plan for events such as this,” Lt. Col. Glasberg said. “In a marine environment, with non-ideal weather conditions to say the least, it was tough to function in the intense and multi-participant event on the Marmara. We are teaching soldiers how to provide the best possible medical assistance so that we will not repeat the events of the past. It is tough to train for an event like this, which is very complex, but we are getting better and better.”

The conversation with Lt. Col. Glasberg took place at the IPREAD 2 conference in Tel Aviv in which the Home Front Command and experts in relevant fields from around the world participated.