The IDF consistently simulates different circumstances in order to be ready on all fronts. Recently, the Home Front Command conducted a unique medical exercise that prepared both soldiers and civilians in the case of a chemical attack on Israeli population centers.
On a Thursday afternoon last month, the IDF’s Home Front Command closed a country club in Kfar Saba, a city in central Israel, and transformed into something very different. Instead of the country club’s usual frequenters, it was filled with soldiers acting as mock casualties of a chemical attack.
The IDF always prepares for the worst. The exercise started with a chemical rocket landing near the country club filled with people. The chemical rocket wounded a number of people and created a chemical warfare substance, a cloud-like gas that can leave hundreds of people injured when spread.
Within minutes, Magen David Adom (MDA), hospital workers, the Health Ministry, municipality officials, and the Home Front Command’s medical and rescue soldiers arrive at the scene.
The wounded are brought to shower at the country club to eliminate any remnants of gas on their bodies. From there, each person is classified according to their level of injury.
Country Club – Examination and Treatment Center
Lightly wounded individuals remain in the country club. Those more seriously wounded are evacuated to the hospital. In order to give those lightly wounded the best treatment, showers and offices are built. “The ETC (Examination and Treatment Center) is set up in just a number of hours,” explains Col. MD Eyal Furman. “It starts operating the moment we arrive. We provide the best possible treatment to those lightly wounded, so that they do not have to be treated in a crowded hospital.”
At the country club turned ETC, paramedics and doctors are ready to treat the wounded, psychologists treat trauma victims, and hospital workers take care of registration and medical records.
Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba
If the atmosphere in the country club is intense, it’s much more so in the hospital. While there is no chemical warfare substance hovering over the hospital, those with the most severe injuries are treated here. From here, it is going to be complicated.
“A victim sent here goes through two processes, “purification” and treatment, before entering the hospital,” explains Col. MD Furman. “The ‘purification’ includes the process of washing the material from the body and from the clothing. The treatment includes applying material that counteracts the poisonous gas. Additionally, there’s treatment for those struggling with shortness of breath.”
“A situation can arise where one is too wounded to go through the ‘purification’ process. We therefore have a station with people who stabilize the wounded. First, we treat the immediate wound, and only after do we clean it,” says Col. MD Furman.
The Chemical Threat
In this exercise, forces learned how to deal with the effects of nerve gas. This poisonous gas destroys the body’s nervous system, and can possibly cause death. Preliminary treatment includes Fuller’s Earth, a powder that absorbs the gas, as well as an extensive wash of the body with water. In cases of serious injuries, the treatment requires the periodic application of different materials to neutralize the gas.
The IDF’s Home Front Command trains to keep people safe, and respond quickly and professionally to all types of emergency situations. Col. MD Furman concludes that “terror is all over the world, and we have to be ready.”