The streets of Israel on Yom Kippur were empty of automobiles yesterday as the entire country came to rest on the holiday. However, Magen David Adom, Israel’s emergency medical response team remained on call and treated hundreds of people suffering from various medical complications on the fast day.
“During Yom Kippur, Magen David Adom was at its highest level of alert all over the country,” said Yoni Yagodovsky, Director of Magen David Adom’s International Department to Tazpit. “We reinforced our teams at the stations all over the country with our volunteers, and also deployed additional ambulances in the neighborhoods and communities, as well as first responders on motorcycles throughout the country, mainly manned by volunteers.”
Magen David Adom made sure that there was a rotation of volunteers who were available throughout the entire Yom Kippur holiday. “We deployed hundreds of volunteers numbering between 2,000 and 3,000 throughout the country in a variety of shifts and rotations from Yom Kippur Eve (at sundown) until the end of the fast (at dusk) last night,” said Yagodovsky.
As numerous people spent their entire Yom Kippur praying, Magen David Adom made preparations to have medical teams available at some major synagogues as well. “We placed medics with medical equipment in big synagogues and community synagogues in order that there be immediate medical response if needed,” Yagodovsky added.
A sum of 2,019 people were treated by Magen David Adom, of which 1,909 were evacuated to hospitals for further treatment and 234 people fainted over the holiday, largely due to dehydration and fasting from both food and water. At least 67 people were treated by Magen David Adoms in various synagogues throughout the country, some of whom were later evacuated to the hospital for further treatment. Eleven people received resuscitory treatment, one of whom was a tourist who passed away after drowning off of Tel Aviv’s beach.
Since the streets of Israel are empty on Yom Kippur, many Israelis seized the opportunity to ride their bicycles, skateboards and rollerblades on the roads. Around 282 Israelis, the vast majority of whom were children and teenagers, were treated by Magen David Adom for injuries resulting from accidents, and some were evacuated to hospitals for further treatment.
There were also 140 women in labor who were evacuated by Magen David Adom for medical treatment, five of whom gave birth on the holiday.
Magen David Adom also made sure that the hospitals had enough blood available during Yom Kippur to treat patients who needed extra blood. “Our blood services supplied 60 blood units during the fast day to the hospitals in order to give them additional medical help since they conducted a variety of medical procedures that needed additional blood and blood supply,” Yagodovsy explained.
Magen David Adom was apparently not thrown any curve balls on this year’s Yom Kippur and was well prepared in advance.
“It was a relatively regular Yom Kippur in terms of the services that we provided,” noted Yagodovsky. “We did not have any irregularities and it was like every normal year on Yom Kippur.”
“We always elevate our level of alertness and deploy additional people on Yom Kippur just in case, knowing that people are not using public transportation or private transportation as they usually would on a regular day.”