More than 300 of the IDF (Zahal)’s top medical personnel competed in the Medical Corps’ third annual grand tournament to discover which unit boasts the Israeli Army’s best combat medics. 

The IDF (Zahal) Medical Corps plays a vital role in Israel’s national defense as it constitutes a literal lifeline for Israeli soldiers during combat. In Israel, the science of military medicine is honed through year-round training, and its practitioners have their wits and skills put to the test in an annual competition.

IDF Medical Personnel Battle it Out in Medical Corps’ Annual Grand Tournament

Third Annual IDF (Zahal) Medical Competition

Last week, the Medical Corps’ third annual tournament of medicine took place. Medical teams from 40 units battled for top honors, with over 300 doctors, medics and paramedics taking part. Soldiers were selected to compete based on their medical skills demonstrated throughout the year.

For the first time this year, dentists and psychologists were among the competitors.

This is the third consecutive year that the IDF (Zahal) has organized the major medical competition, held at the Medical Corps’ headquarters in central Israel – a base where all IDF (Zahal) medical personnel receive their training. “Its good to be home” seemed to be the theme among the competitors.

Chief Medical Officer, Brigadier General Yizhak Kreiss opened the grand tournament by addressing the participants: “This is a competition. It’s a day of celebration for the IDF (Zahal) Medical Corps. We are already proud of all our soldiers.”

Stretcher Race

This is the first race of the day.

IDF Medical Personnel Battle it Out in Medical Corps’ Annual Grand Tournament
IDF Medical Personnel Battle it Out in Medical Corps’ Annual Grand Tournament
IDF Medical Personnel Battle it Out in Medical Corps’ Annual Grand Tournament

The rules: two teams of four soldiers stand around a stretcher on which a mock patient (weight simulated) lays. Suddenly, a commander shouts at them: “Stretchers onto shoulders.” The soldiers execute the command. “Ready? GO!” And the soldiers take off around the racecourse.

IDF Medical Personnel Battle it Out in Medical Corps’ Annual Grand Tournament

The soldiers finish the race by attaching an IV to a “patient” lying on the ground.

Medical Care in the Heat of Combat

To win in this task, soldiers must provide medical treatment to special smart dummies (link) that indicate heart rate, blood pressure and other physical elements that indicate the necessary course of action. When the soldier comes face to face with the “injured” dummy, she receives information about the patient’s condition: how he was injured, if he’s bleeding, if he requires infusion etc. and the soldier must administer the appropriate medical care as quickly as possible.

IDF Medical Personnel Battle it Out in Medical Corps’ Annual Grand Tournament

The Medical Corps trains its personnel to provide much-needed treatment in the heat of combat. To that end, the various stages of the competition were conducted in battle conditions. Gunfire and explosions rang out all around while the participants competed in the simulated low light of evening.

War Zone Simulation

Now, the soldiers face a battleground. They are ready. It’s time for the elite units to prove themselves. Barbed wire, tires on the ground, nets below through which they must crawl – this is a true war zone simulation and places the soldiers in the atmosphere of a real fight. They must pass through every obstacle as quickly as possible, at top speed, in order to reach the wounded awaiting treatment at the end of the course.

A soldier of the elite Egoz unit proceeds to treat a patient. He checks the respiratory tract, takes the pulse, applies a tourniquet, prepares an infusion and supplies updates on the patient’s condition. Step by step he treats the patient, while an officer watches on. These medics must prove their ability to act under the pressure of time – for in the moment of truth it is human lives that are at stake.

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