Everyday in Israel, emergencies happen, accidents occur and people need help. Magen David Adom (MDA), Israel’s national emergency medical, disaster, ambulance and blood bank services, are usually the first on scene, administering quick medical treatment. Too frequently, MDA paramedics must give emergency blood transfusions to those in need.
In Israel the operation of one ambulance for one day costs $230, which includes the staff operating the ambulance, gas, upkeep of the communications system, medical as well as automotive equipment, and blood bank equipment. On any given day there are at least 300 ambulances on active duty in Israel. During Operation Protective Edge, over 1,000 ambulances have been operating on a daily basis.
The increase in staff and subsequent budgetary demands has caused an increase of close to NIS 500,000 ($142,000) in extra costs over the month long operation. The only way that MDA can recoup these costs is through their international supporters.
During the recent Gaza operation, 606 civilians in Israel were injured in the Gaza periphery, six in critical condition, and 7 in moderate condition. Three were killed in terrorist rocket attacks. This is relatively little compared to the 4,500 who were injured during the Second Lebanon War.
“This is a huge difference,” said Manager of the Operations Division of MDA Gil Moskowitz in a speech delivered to members of the Work and Social Services Committee of the Knesset who visited the MDA operations center in Ashdod.
Moskowitz continued: “During the operation we saw a drastic decline in the number of car accidents and work related accidents in the southern region of Israel. Most likely this was because people did not travel as much or go to work as they normally do.”
MDA Director General, Eli Bin, explained to Israeli press: “We are working at full steam with all of our vehicles in operation from Dan (town on Israel’s northern border) to Eilat. All of our staff and volunteers have been working non-stop and are on call 24 hours a day. The lifesaving teams carry out widespread searches in all areas where missiles have fallen, in order to ensure that all the injured and wounded are treated as quickly as possible. This is due to the direct contact and information sharing that we have set up with the Homefront Command. All the MDA ambulances are manned today and there in not a single team member who is not provided with a protective vest and a helmet to protect himself.”
“The dedication of the MDA workers is very impressive, and we are continuing to act as needed. In addition to the emergency situations, we are also treating people in the rest of the country with routine incidents, and ensure that each call is treated swiftly, professionally and efficiently,” Bin added.
Bin explained that the only reason MDA is able to save literally hundreds of thousands of lives each year is due to the continued support of people around the world.
“Each year we receive roughly $30 million in donations from donors around the world. Without them we would not be able to exist,” he said. “As opposed to other government bodies, we do not have an extra budget allocated for national emergencies, and this year we will at least an extra NIS 2 million ($566,000) for every day of Operation Protective Edge to cover our costs.”
Head of the Work and Social Services Committee MK Haim Katz (Likud) said, “The committee supports MDA and its activities and wishes to strengthen the workers and volunteers who give of themselves to make the organization run. We will do everything in our power in order to ensure that the organization is recompensed adequately for its heightened activities during the operation.”
MK Miki Levi (Yesh Atid), who also toured the MDA operations center in Ashdod, expressed his awe at the life-saving efforts carried out each day by the MDA fleet.
“I came today to observe the activities of MDA and was amazed to find out how far advanced the organization is and how dedicated and professional the personnel are. They are doing everything possible in order to save human lives.”
Levi, who served as the Commander of the Jerusalem Region Police in the past, reflected on how far MDA has come: “The MDA that you are presenting to me today is not the same organization that I knew in the past. We are talking about an organization which has amazing technology at its fingertips. I wish to express my appreciation to those carrying out the work. I admire your work and in these difficult times – more than in any other time – I would like to thank you all and shake your hands. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
After the visit, Bin said that no matter what happens, MDA’s unwavering devotion to saving lives will not falter.
“MDA workers and volunteers are carrying out their work with great love and responsibility for the sake of Israel and for saving people’s lives, and we shall continue to do so. Also on the humanitarian level, MDA will continue to work as much as possible – be it by distributing First Aid kits, setting up protected areas wherever we can and help to the forces working in the field. Involvement and love of our fellow man are values which lead the MDA teams in their daily work, and now – more so than ever.”
Jonathan Feldstein Director of Heart to Heart, an organization that supports Israel’s national blood bank,commented that his “organization is proud to support all these life saving services, and grateful for the wide support from so many who understand that, especially in times of conflict, having the resources available to save lives like this is an invaluable blessing to all of Israel. We appreciate all the grassroots support and the many partnerships we have with ministries who share a heart for Israel and make this all possible.”
To learn how you can help save lives in Israel with MDA, click here.