Published in: Summer 2018 Edition of Ambulance Today Magazine
Magen David Adom (MDA), Israel’s National EMS organisation and Blood Services provider, is also Israel’s largest volunteer organisation. On its way to gaining this formidable title, MDA has taken upon itself the vital role of educating not only its employees in basic and advanced life-saving skills, but also a large number of Israel’s general population. Youth, medical staff and many others from around the world benefit from Magen David Adom’s professional and experienced trainers.
Our youngest volunteers are 15-years-old, and begin studying towards a First Aid Provider certificate that allows them to volunteer on front-line ambulances. Often these teenagers undertake this course as part of a national volunteering scheme which requires all of those leaving school to have served a certain number of volunteer hours in order to receive their matriculation certificates.
MDA volunteers go well beyond their required hours, with just the 60-hour course itself almost entirely filling their quota. Nevertheless, many of the young volunteers work several times a week in eight-hour shifts, assisting the EMS crews in their life-saving duties.
These young volunteers often run training sessions of their own, either for the next youth volunteers or for members of the public, at CPR stands in malls, train stations, schools and other public places.
Within the MDA framework, there are other short courses provided to the general public, beginning with a 22-hour “Life Guardian” course. This teaches the basic life-saving skills required in order to begin treatment in life-threatening cases such as cardiac arrest. Volunteers on this scheme are provided with basic life-saving equipment and then download an “MDA Teams” mobile phone app that notifies them if there is a call nearby and sends them details of the address and nature of the incident. This has helped to reduce response times in many cases to a matter of seconds, thus increasing patients’ chances of survival.
Courses provided to medical staff are conducted around the country, both in their medical facilities and in MDA stations. These courses include refresher courses, Basic Life Support (BLS) courses, Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) courses, and tailor-made training sessions.
ACLS, PHTLS and PALS courses are all run under the auspices of the American Heart Association, with MDA being one of the few non-American organisations with AHA accreditation for running their courses and issuing certificates. These courses are run across the country for nurses and doctors who are required to attend refresher courses every two-to-three years.
Magen David Adom runs several courses a year aimed at international teams of doctors who come to Israel to learn from the wealth of MDA’s experience particularly, but not exclusively, in the field of mass casualty incidents. There have been teams from as far apart as France, Canada and Mexico who have joined specialised courses set in an Israeli background. There are, of course, EMT courses being constantly run, providing a flowing stream of qualified staff, including both volunteers and employees, for our ambulances.
Arguably, the pinnacle of Magen David Adom’s education services lie within the Paramedic Education Centre, located in MDA’s Ramat Gan station, but branches are located all across the country. All of Israel’s Paramedics undertake their training with Magen David Adom, either in part or in its entirety, regardless of which course or courses they may have joined. There are courses for volunteers, EMTs who wish to take the next step in their career, military Paramedics, university degree Paramedics, those who are undertaking their national service in MDA, and many others. There have been courses run for all sections of society, irrespective of gender, race or religion, often tailored towards specific communities.
These communities, such as the Bedouin and Ultra-Orthodox communities, are underrepresented in the ranks of EMS in general, including Paramedics in particular. Providing each community with dedicated conditions allows their members to study in ideal conditions to complete the prestigious Paramedic course, and begin serving not only their communities, but the general public as a whole.
Magen David Adom strives to educate as many people as possible in our primary, life-saving mission. We welcome all those who wish to learn to join us and be part of our education agenda. As it says in our logo – It’s a Matter of Life.