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MDA’s New Paramedics: Father and Son

Itzik (53) and Amir Amzaleg (25), a father and son, where recently involved in a special and extraordinary occasion when they both took the stage at the graduation ceremony of MDA’s paramedics course and received their certifications. Afterwards, they went out for their first shift together on a MICU (Mobile Intensive Care Unit).

In 1981, Itzik Amzaleg, a resident of Avigdor, came to MDA as a volunteer and has since fallen in love with the organisation, holding a variety of positions over the years. Today, Amzaleg is a paramedic and acting manager of the MDA station in Kiryat Malachi.

Amir, a resident of Ashdod, began his career in the organisation at age 15 as a youth volunteer. Now, he is the acting manager of the National Dispatch and First Responders Dispatch at MDA’s National Operations Centre in Kiryat Ono.

Itzik shared his thoughts on the special occasion saying: “Working with my son has showed me how responsible and dedicated he is.’

“He sticks to his goals and loves his job. I am very proud of him and happy that we are able to work together. This is not something that every father and son gets to do, and that made our first shift very special.”

Itzik (left) and Amir (right)

On the shared responsibility and experience, Amir added: “We manage to make a complete separation during the shift during which we work professionally and regardless of being family. Despite this, the experience is great and we have a lot to talk about at Shabbat dinners.’

“We manage the situation together, come with good spirit, and desire to help others. The last word is of Dad, of course, who has been in the organisation for 40 years and has years of experience, but we work very well together.’

“When we travel together in an ambulance, the feeling is very special — not something that happens to everyone.”

In 1979, the Ministry of Health granted Magen David Adom the authority to train and certify paramedics in the State of Israel. 41 years ago, on June 25, 1980, the first course certified the first 18 paramedics in the country.

Since then, Magen David Adom has trained 3,578 paramedics, including all paramedics in the Israel Defense Forces, universities, hospitals, the National Service and members of Hesder yeshivas who work daily to save lives with professionalism and dedication.

Of all the paramedics trained in the State of Israel in the past 41 years, MDA currently has 1,162 paramedics from all populations and communities in Israel, including Jews, Arabs, Christians, Druze, new immigrants and secularists, secular, national-religious and ultra-Orthodox, including 918 employees and 244 volunteers, including 34 National and Civil Service volunteers.

MDA’s Wish Ambulance Fulfils Dream for 7-year-old Capt. Rafael Yotam

About four years ago, Rafael Yotam Cohen, who has cancer, fulfilled a dream using an MDA Wish Ambulance by flying in an MDA-Lahak emergency helicopter in the southern skies of the country. Recently, Rafael Yotam’s rare illness sadly returned for the third time, so his old friends at MDA returned once more to give him a day full of experiences upon a naval ship

The Magen David Adom Wish Ambulance project began volunteering in 2009, and to this day has managed to fulfil the wishes of thousands of critically ill patients. Recently they have been using a newly modified wish ambulance which was donated via the MDA Friends Society in Melbourne, Australia (headed by Ms. Glynis Lipson). Rafael Yotam’s wish was the first to be fulfilled through the new vehicle.

The fulfillment of Rafael Yotam’s first wish about 4 years ago had a positive effect on his medical condition, which coincided with an improvement in his health. Following this, Rafael Yotam’s mother, Ravit Cohen, decided to take an active part in the fundraising campaign for a new ambulancem, and even participated in a campaign in Australia.

Rafael Yotam at the helm

The Cohen family contacted MDA and told them of Rafael Yotam’s dream — and the organisation immediately joined the mission to help bring it to realisation. About a week ago, Rafael Yotam (7-and-a-half-year’s-old), a resident of Neta in the Lachish region, and the youngest of seven siblings, fulfilled his dream.

He arrived by MDA’s new Wish Ambulance at the naval base in Ashdod, where officers and fighters of one of the Navy’s Shaldag-class patrol ships were waiting for him with excitement and special refreshments and surprises.

As part of the special day, Rafael Yotam met the soldiers and officers of the navy, received an explanation about the ship and the weapons placed in it, and even set sail while sitting in the Captain’s chair and holding the rudder.

The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter type includes full intensive care mobile equipment, the first and only electric bed of its kind in Israel adapted for critically ill patients, and a specialised refrigerator for medicine.

Rafael en route with his mother and paramedics Tomer Bar-Levi, Shachar Hezkelevich, and Yonat Daskal-Dagan in MDA’s new Wish Ambulance

The compartments in the ambulance are hidden, in order to reduce the level of stress among the passengers and simulate normal driving conditions. The ambulance includes a place for the driver, two staff members, a patient, and three accompanying family members.

This first wish in the new ambulance was accompanied by paramedics Tomer Bar-Levi and Shachar Hezkelevich, as well as paramedic Yonat Daskal-Dagan who accompanied Rafael Yotam also on his first wish.

Yonat remarked: “I am doubly excited, both from the fulfilment of Rafael Yotam’s wish and the launch of the new ambulance.’

“When we set out on a [fundraising] journey in Australia, Yotam recovered after the first wish. We were very saddened to hear that he was ill again.’

“We created a special day in order to put a smile on his face, at least for a few moments. I thank the Navy for enlisting in the special mission and we wish him a complete recovery and full health.”

Ravit Cohen, Rafael Yotam’s mother, said: “Already at the fulfilment of the first wish, we became very connected to the MDA family and the staff of the Wishes ambulance and we remained in close contact.’

“After Rafael Yotam recovered, I flew to Australia to promote donations to MDA’s new ambulance, and to my delight the donations were successfully raised.’

“We asked him what he would like to do and he answered: “to sail a ship.” MDA immediately organised the special day with the Navy, which was charming and extraordinary.’

“The experience was amazing — the soldiers hugged us and were cordial and prepared special gifts for Rafael Yotam. He was happy and excited, and told everyone who het met about the past experience.”

On the fulfilment of the special dream, Rafael Yotam concluded: “I had a lot of fun, and I want to be a captain now. I wander around the house all day with the flag I received from the soldiers, like Superman. Thank you all.”

MDA Launch New Facebook Feature to Promote Blood Donations

Adi Soffer-Teeni, the General Manager for Facebook Israel, recently visited Magen David Adom’s National Operations Center in Kiryat Ono to launch a new technology feature with MDA’s Director General, Eli Bin, which will be integrated into Facebook in order to help raise awareness of the importance of blood donations In Israel. It will also show users of the the of MDA’s blood services throughout the country, where donations can be made.

With the new feature, Facebook social network users will be able to sign up for real-time alerts about blood donation centres in their area, set up routine reminders to donate blood, and invite family and friends to donate blood themselves.

More than 100 million people worldwide have signed up to receive blood donation alerts in their area and use the feature to donate blood on a regular basis.

Director General of MDA, Eli Bin, with Adi Soffer-Teeni, General Manager of Facebook Israel

Magen David Adom points out that their blood services are required to collect 1,000 units of blood every day in order to have a sufficient enough supply for patients in need of emergency transfusions.

During the visit, Eli Bin explained to Adi the variety of technological means integrated into MDA’s advanced systems and introduced her to Facebook technologies which are already integrated with MDA’s control systems, such as a direct chat channels via WhatsApp with EMTs or paramedics based in call centres, and other functions which allow people to relay their location immediately and send images of the scene, patient, or useful landmarks.

Eli Bin, MDA Director General: “We are excited about Facebook’s initiative to launch on the International Blood Donor Day a feature developed specifically to encourage blood donations, and thanks to which we will be able to reach a wider audience and significantly increase the number of volunteer blood donors in Israel.’

“This is an important national mission that will raise awareness of blood donations and make the location of MDA’s blood donation centres accessible throughout the country.’

“This is an algorithm that can, literally, save lives. We thank and welcome the initiative, investment and exceptional result”.

MDA Aim for 15 Minute Corona Test Results

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As part of the fight against the spread of the Corona virus and in order to reduce the time for receiving Corona test results, the Ministry of Health and Magen David Adom began pilot at the MDA “Drive and Test” complex in Lod in cooperation with the Mehuedet and Clalit HMOs.

Today, the average time to receive results is 48-72 hours, depending on the laboratory’s work load and the number of daily tests. As part of the trial, the Ministry of Health is interested in reducing the waiting time to only 15 minutes.

A pilot began yesterday (Wednesday) at the MDA “Drive and Test” in Lod in the presence of Health Minister Yuli Edelstein and Deputy Health Minister MK Yoav Kisch who have personally accompany the program from the beginning.

Magen David Adom, Israel’s National Emergency Medical and Blood Services Organization, which was chosen to take the samples for the trial, set up a dedicated mobile laboratory at the “Drive and Test” facility using mobile laboratory technology developed by “Sofia”.

The system brings innovative technology of speed and mobility and can be adapted for use in specific locations which require a more rapid response such as nursing homes, military bases, airports and more.

Only those who come with a referral from the their physician for a Corona test are sampled. Participants are requested to allow for two tests to be obtained at the same time — one regular and one for the rapid laboratory, with the results attached to a test sent to the lab and tested for comparison with the regular test.

A dedicated computing platform will monitor the tests, decryption times and treatment pace. The results will be forwarded to the Ministry of Health and after the results are completed and evaluated, the expansion of the trial will be determined.

MDA Medical Director, Dr. Rafael Strugo: “We at MDA believe that the cooperation with the Ministry of Health and the trial will yield results in the field, shorten the wait times and make the testing process more efficient and simpler for all parties — testers and patients.’

“Rapid results will make it possible to increase the range of tests and thus more effectively track and manage the spread of the virus.”

Deputy Minister of Health, MK Yoav Kisch: “At the request of Minister Edelstein, I started looking for technologies that could help in the fight against the Corona virus.’

“This system operates in the United States with hundreds of thousands of tests and is of course FDA approved,in an expedited procedure.’

“The big advantage of the system is that it is in the field and can provide 40 tests per hour and can certainly suit nursing homes and other sensitive places.’

“We will continue to search and test technology from Israel and the world that can help the State of Israel in dealing with the Corona virus.’

“I would like to thank MDA for joining the trial and the Clalit and Meuhedet HMOs that operate the pilot complex in Lod”.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein: “In recent days, we have crossed the 30,000 mark of tests per day, thanks in part to the My Heritage lab we put into operation.’

“Towards winter, the number of tests must be significantly increased and the time until results reduced. These will help us break the chain of infection. The Ministry of Health is working tirelessly on this.”

MDA Director General Eli Bin: “We congratulate the Minister of Health and the Deputy Minister on the start of the trial with the latest technology, which will help all those involved in the mission.’

“Shortening the response time for citizens is an essential part of the national fight against the spread of the Corona virus in Israel.’

“We will continue to be at the forefront of the fight against the spread of the virus, which is currently on the rise.’

“I sincerely hope that the results of the trial will help dramatically reduce waiting times and provide a quick diagnosis for future patients that will also have a positive effect on the entire economy. “

First Operational Activity for MDA’s Ambulance-Bus

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On Friday, July 3, MDA’s unique and first of its kind intensive care bus was called for the evacuation of 9 residents from a nursing home in southern Israel who were diagnosed with Corona virus.

All of the patients were evacuated by the bus in one trip to the Corona Health Care Geriatric Center located in the center of the country.

The unique bus, which was introduced about a month and a half ago, allows the evacuation of up to thirteen patients and injured, with two of them evacuated lying in the middle of the bus, which is equipped with intensive care equipment, and eleven others sitting in the back.

Sirens and an advanced communication system are installed in the bus, enabling the crews in different parts of the bus to contact MDA. The evacuation to the hospital today saved nine ambulances needed to perform such a task.

The MAN company buses are converted inner-city busses and measure just under 40 feet/ 12 meters in length, 2.5 meters wide, and 2.47 meters high.

The three parts of the bus are completely separate from each other with opaque partitions. Thus, even in the case of evacuating infectious patients, the driver does not require PPE.

In order for the driver to keep in touch with teams and evacuees at all times, there is a communication system that allows them to speak. In addition, the driver has access to cameras that are located throughout the bus.

In the middle of the bus, there are two beds with equipment suitable for ALS care. Two paramedics are appointed to treat patients who are lying in this part, while they can see through the camera what is happening in the back, where up to eleven evacuees can be transported in stable or light condition.

There is also an advanced life support equipment, which includes, among other things, defibrillators that can also perform ECGs, and automated chest compressions devices.

Above each seat in the back of the bus, there is an oxygen tap. The eleven taps are fed by four large oxygen tanks, which are connected to a special system located in the front of the bus.

There are also two refrigerators on the bus that are designed to store blood and medicines that need to be refrigerated.

In addition to all of this, the bus is powered by V230 power outlets, which allow additional medical equipment to be connected if needed, such as ECMO, incubator and the like.

The evacuation bus is an emergency vehicle for all intents and purposes, and is equipped with lights, siren, and an announcement system, similar to a MICU. In addition, the bus is connected to MDA’s radio system.

The cameras in the bus are also connected to MDA Medical Dispatch Center, so doctors and senior paramedics from the hotline can see what is going on and, if necessary, advise the bus’s team and participate in decision making.

In terms of hygiene and ICP, the bus has a special oxygen exchange system that can, according to the Ministry of Health, replace all the air in the vehicle in just seven minutes.

For quick and efficient cleaning, the bus seats are made of leather, and each has a seat belt. On top of that, the bus’s power outlets are waterproof, so the vehicle can be disinfected without fear of electric shock.

Finally, TV screens have been installed on the bus to ease the evacuees’ time. The windows of the bus are sealed, and looking inside the bus from outside is impossible.

In addition, at the rear of the bus there are compartments for storing personal belongings of the evacuees. The bus is accessible for the disabled, and a special ramp for passenger transport is installed.

Eli Bin, MDA Director General, said: “As the national EMS organization of the State of Israel, MDA teams spend days and nights in developing means for saving lives and provide medical response efficiently and quickly. We will continue to face every challenge at any time and wherever it is needed.”

One Family, 600 Units of Blood

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Giving is in their blood. In the 1970s, when Moshe (75) was a young student at Bar-Ilan University, he decided to try to donate blood in MDA for the first time in his life.

Since then, he became a regular donor and has continued to donate every month, and over the years, he has also passed this on to his children and grandchildren.

This week, his granddaughter donated blood for the first time in her life — the family’s 600th blood donation.

This morning, Sunday, marks International Blood Donation Day around the world. At the same time, with extraordinary timing, the Gelerenter family celebrates the 600th blood and blood product donation of family members who have donated blood continuously over the past several decades.

The special “hobby” began in the early 1970s, when the family’s grandfather Moshe Gelerenter was a young student in Bar Ilan.

During one of the breaks, he encountered a MDA Blood Mobile and decided to come in and make a donation — for the first time in his life.

Since then, after realizing the importance and need of the donation — he has not stopped donating and over the years has added his children and grandchildren to the donor list.

Moshe is a father of four and the grandfather of two grandchildren and one of the longest blood donors in MDA.

To date, Moses has donated 305 blood and plasma units since he began donating regularly in 1988.

This week, his young granddaughter (17.5) donated her first blood donation, which marked the 600th donation of family members.

About a year ago, Moshe had a heart attack and had to stop donating. As a result, Moshe decided to continue to help in other ways — and joined the MDA blood donor organization during which he was a volunteer donor in the pharesis unit.

From 1988 until the last years, Moshe donated regularly and hasn’t missed an opportunity to donate.

Because of the sense of mission and giving, Moshe recruited his four children, two grandchildren and other relatives to donate — which together reached a total of 600 family blood donations this week.

Regarding the sense of mission and family effort, Moshe said: “Until the age of 73, I have been donating regularly since the 1980s.’

“Unfortunately, due to a cardiac event and sugar problems, I can no longer donate. Nevertheless, I found another way to help MDA and the Corona crisis I volunteered in the organization and brought more blood donors.’

“I feel I did mine. I was able to educate the next generation and now my grandchildren are donating with their initiative and with great desire.’

“I started donating regularly when I was told about a baby who needed urgent blood donation. The story really excited me and I immediately wanted to donate.’

“This week, my young granddaughter donated her first unit of blood, which marked 600 units of blood from the Gelerenter family.’

“It is an exciting symbol of the continuation of generations and the continuity of giving. To my delight, there is no one in the family who is afraid of needles.’

“I thank G-D for leading me to this endeavor and I am grateful to have been able to help. Most important to me is that my children and the next generation, grandchildren, go my way and donate nonstop.’

“Each has donated dozens of doses of blood and they do not intend to stop. I consider the donation a supreme value and hope my story will serve as an example to others.”

Prof. Eilat Shinar, MDA Deputy Director General- Blood Services: “Moshe is one of the best and most special people we have met.’

“We, in MDA Blood Services, help 1,800 patients around the country who need blood transfusions to save their lives.’

“At the time of the Corona crisis, the importance of plasma donation became particularly significant, with the aim of helping the severely ill and preparing for the next wave.’

“Dr. Karl Landsteiner, who discovered the types of blood and thus his birthday marks the day of blood donation around the world on, would have been happy to know that there are special people like the Gelerenter family.”

Mifal HaPayis and Magen David Adom Initiative to Place AEDs in Public Areas

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Mifal HaPayis is currently launching a joint project with MDA. Joint teams have already begun this week to place the devices in the Lottery booths across the country.

The project aims to provide an electric shock to the heart in cases of out of hospital cardiac arrest as quickly as possible and increase the number of lives saved in such instances.

When a citizen identifies a case of cardiac arrest in a public setting, they will be able to call the 101 Emergency Call Center as usual.

From there they will receive instructions enabling them to identify the closest defibrillator in the area (located in dedicated Mifal HaPayis booths),

Further instructions will help them to assess the patient and to provide life saving treatment until the arrival of emergency teams.

The chairperson of Mifal HaPayis, CPA Avigdor Yitzhaki said: “The purpose of the venture is to save human lives.’

“Deploying the AED devices in the Mifal HaPayis sales booths will enable, in some cases, immediate primary care in the urban area and, in some cases, even save the lives of the most common cause of death in Israel and around the world — cardiac arrest.’

“Mifal HaPayis understands the importance of the project, and invests many resources for the community and Israeli society and there is no greater social purpose than saving human lives.’

“I congratulate the Mifal HaPayis Board who understood the importance of the project, approved it and immediately joined the mission.”

MDA Director General Eli Bin added: “Collaboration with the Mifal HaPayis through the placement of CPR devices in public places is an example of creative collaboration for the sake of saving lives.’

“This is certainly an important and clear step that will save lives and increase the chances of survival of those suffering from cardiac arrest near, and perhaps even without irreversible brain damage.’

“I thank the chairman of Mifal HaPayis, CPA Avigdor Yitzhaki, for his first-line stance, alongside MDA, with concern for public health.”

Super Woman Asmahan Abu Yeheya Recounts 16 years of EMS Volunteering for MDA

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Asmahan Abu-Yeheya (42) from Gan Yavne has volunteered at Magen David Adom for 16 years.

Over the years, Asmahan had six children of her own, but between one maternity leave and another, she continued to volunteer at MDA as an EMT and ambulance driver.

Asmahan is a certified preschool teacher, and at the same time also works as a medical secretary at an orthopedic clinic, and as a volunteer operations officer for the Gan Yavne Rescue Unit.

All of this, Asmahan, does as a single mother to her six children, with the youngest being 10 years old. 

“I get support from the kids,” Asmahan shared, “If I’m in a bad mood, they tell me to go to a MDA shift because they know it will do me good.’

“Doing and giving give me a lot of satisfaction, and I feel at any given moment that I am part of the warm and supportive MDA family.’

Asmahan says that she sees each patient as a person, and that she never works on “automatic: “When I treat an older woman, I treat her like she is my grandmother.

Every time I think about the person in the ambulance when he is in pain and scared, and sometimes I am the only person they have, my job is first and foremost to give him the best medical care, but I believe it is very important that I be both human and caring. “

In recent months, Asmahan has taken an active part in MDA activity at the forefront of the fight against the Corona virus.

She has undergone training to obtain samples from suspected corona patients, and has obtained samples in the homes of patients in the Gan Yavne and Ashdod area, in the “Drive and Test” complex in Ashdod and in nursing homes in the area.

“I took a lot of samples, but it was important not to be indifferent to any of the patients,” Asmahan said. “I remember going to sample a tourist who was in isolation at a hotel in Ashdod, and I was told he had a birthday.’

“I sang a happy birthday to him and he was very excited. When I arrived dressed in protective suit for homes that had children, I told them that I was not a monster, and tried to do everything I could to calm them.’

“The activity around the Corona crisis was vast and sometimes not easy, but I knew I was part of something big, and volunteer at an organization that you need adapt to the situation in the country, with the help of people like me and other volunteers. “

“I happened to arrive as a team member for a patient or injured person, and they asked me where the person in charge is,” Asmahan said, “but I’m quick to make it clear that I’m in charge.’

“I’m sure of what I’m doing, and as soon as the people around me realize I’m coming to help, the attitude always changes. They thank me and appreciate what I did.”