In the wake of a natural disaster, representatives of Rambam’s Teaching Center for Trauma Emergency and Mass Casualty Situations, travelled to Chile to teach local professionals how to deal with mass casualty events. In turn, the delegation members learned how to cope with earthquakes.

 Easing Chile's trauma

 

Members of the Israeli delegation to Chile

(Rambam Medical Center Spokesperson’s Office)

In the wake of a natural disaster, representatives of Rambam’s Teaching Center for Trauma Emergency and Mass Casualty Situations, travelled to Chile to teach local professionals how to deal with mass casualty events. In turn, the delegation members learned how to cope with earthquakes.

Israelis in South America are widespread, but not every day do they travel to the Latin American continent to share life saving knowledge and experience with local professionals.

 Easing Chile's trauma

Chile’s military personnel participate in the course

A team from The Teaching Center for Trauma Emergency and Mass Casualty Situations at Rambam returned last week from Santiago, the capital of Chile. There, it led a special five-day course for 300 medical personnel, among them senior members of Chile’s air and ground forces, as well as representatives of its rescue units and police force. The course focused on managing mass casualty events. News of the Israeli delegation spread, and 12 doctors and nurses from Paraguay also showed up.

Just four months ago, Chile was hit by a powerful earthquake that registered 8.8 on the Richter scale. In the wake of the earthquake, a tsunami hit the country’s southern coast, causing enormous damage. Residents of the area are still coping with the aftermath of the catastrophe, which destroyed entire areas and caused the collapse of numerous.

Ironically, the Rambam team had been invited to lead the course more than half a year ago. The disaster revealed a lack of preparedness on the part of many Chilean bodies to handle mass casualty events, and the need for Israeli knowhow and  experience became all the more critical.

The course was initiated by Dr. Alfredo Mizrahi, a Jewish Chilean physician who works in Las Condes Hospital in Santiago. Dr Mizrahi, a long-time friend of Rambam, initiated the first such course in Chile two years ago, on organizing a trauma center. The recent course, held under the auspices of the Jewish community, included lectures and workshops.

 Easing Chile's trauma

Group photo of the course participants

Three Rambam representatives led the delegation: Dr Moshe Michaelson, director of the Trauma Unit, Gila Hyams, head of the Teaching Center for Trauma and Mass Casualty Situations and Nurit Naeh, director of Public Relations. The delegation also included Dr Leon Poles from Kaplan Medical Center, an expert in chemical warfare and mass casualty events, Dr Amir Blumenfeld, former head of IDF Trauma Unit and adviser to the Ministry of Health for M.C.S, and Mr. Chaim Rafalowski, the Chilean-born representative of emergency medicine for Magen David Adom. 

"The delegation members presented a broad array of ways to deal with these events," said Dr Michaelson, adding, "The response was incredible – the participants were hungry for knowledge. They didn’t stop showing interest and asking questions, and at the end of the course we received many offers for cooperation and additional courses."

A day before the course began, the delegation toured the tsunami disaster site, which is being renewed. This restoration is being conducted, in large part, with the support of Chile’s 15,000-member Jewish community. The community also donated two ambulances that were dedicated at a ceremony in the presence of the Israeli delegation members, the regional governor and minister of health, as well as representatives of the Jewish community. "The pictures here are very difficult. Four months after the disaster there is still damage everywhere. Where hospitals once stood, there are now tents," said Gila Hyams, asserting that the Jewish community’s assistance has been very significant. "I was so excited to hear about the heroism of the medical teams that worked in such awful conditions during the catastrophe," added Hyams.

During the tour, the delegation met with Dr. Daniela Guede, a young doctor who arrived in the area shortly before the earthquake, and who remained to treat the injured. The doctor, who also took part in the Rambam course, met several months ago with General Elon Glazberg, head of the IDF trauma unit, who came to learn from the Chilean experience in coping with earthquakes. During his stay, Dr Gelzberg advised Dr Guede on how to re-organize her clinic, which was destroyed in the tsunami and moved to a temporary shelter.

Rambam’s Teaching Center is known globally, especially for its wide experience in treating those wounded in fighting along Israel’s northern border and in accepting difficult trauma cases referred from other hospitals in the north of the country. Representatives from Rambam’s School for Organization and Treatment of Trauma travel around the world in the framework of Rambam courses.  Due to the hospital’s expertise in this area, the center recently held a course in trauma for medical personnel in NATO countries.