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Two farm workers, badly burned

A child’s hand stuck in a gate, with several fingers severed

A traveler in the Judea desert suffering a heart attack

These three cases are all recent, involving casualties that were quickly evacuated to hospitals by one of the Israeli MDA’s medical helicopters, later receiving quick and efficient treatment.

Photo: MDA Spokesman's Office
Photo: MDA Spokesman’s Office

Since the child reached a hospital relatively quickly the doctors successfully re-attached his severed fingers. The same goes for the heart attack and burn victims – quick evacuation saved their lives.

This is the mission of the MDA’s (magen David Adom, Israeli medical emergency service) helicopter wing: A pair of helicopters, one stationed in the south and one in the north, providing airborne medical emergency services for casualties throughout Israel.

Moshe Vaknin, Helicopter Project Manager for the MDA: “Our mission isn’t rescue, it’s evacuation and medical emergency service, in the field and during flight. The two helicopters are capable of landing anywhere. The southern aircraft covers the huge area stretching between Eilat, the Dead Sea and the deserts, while the southern aircraft covers northern Israel. Each helicopter carries the most advanced emergency equipment, including respiration machines, monitoring equipment, medicinal treatment and more. Our teams are in contact with all MDA call centers in Israel, and are capable of quickly evacuating casualties to trauma units in all central hospitals.”

iHLSIsrael Homeland Security

Photo: MDA Spokesman's Office
Photo: MDA Spokesman’s Office

Every helicopter can accommodate two casualties lying down, similar to a medical emergency ambulance. The airborne teams are veteran paramedics, exeprienced and with special training in airborne medical treatment. They’re especially proficient in areas where evacuation speed is critical: Traffic accidents, work related incidents, burns, severed limbs, heart attacks, strokes and similar cases. These severe incidents call for especially quick evacuation, which, for the MDA, means sending the helicopters.

Moshe Vaknin noted that the helicopter teams work in shifts, being ready for takeoff in under seven minutes. The helicopters themselves are Eurocopter aircraft especially adapted for airborne medical missions. They include two models – the BO 105 and the larger BK 117. The Lahak company is in charge of piloting and services.

Statistics speak for themselves: A pair of MDA helicopters usually conducts 360 evacuation runs annually.