Last week, United Hatzalah participated in a joint training operation with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the security and command center of the Eshkol Regional Council. The intense training exercise focused on proper communication between security and emergency medical responders, should a large scale renewal of the conflict between Hamas and Israel take place.

Among the scenarios conducted during the exercise was a simultaneous military and medical response to a simultaneous terrorist infiltration into a number of population centers located throughout the region.

During the exercise, a mobile command center was set up at Kibbutz (cooperative farming town) Rayim, which acted as the hub of cross-organizational communication for all of the security and medical response teams involved in the operation.

United Hatzalah liaison Daniel Gohar was instrumental in arranging the exercise. Gohar represented the organization in the mobile command center and, from there, conferred with the national command center in Jerusalem during the practice drill.

Numerous scenarios were practiced during the drill including a mass casualty event, terror attacks, attacks emanating from underground tunnels, and missile attacks that impacted schools. While the responses were in practice only, the preparedness demonstrated by United Hatzalah impressed the security forces that participated.

Gohar said after the event that “coordinating responses is a necessary step in cutting down the time it takes to provide emergency medical response to the citizens of the region. We are far from hospitals here and, in the event of an incident actually taking place, we need to be as coordinated as possible to be able to cut down on response time. In this area, we made significant headway.”

Gohar explained that direct radio channels were set up between the regional council security command center and United Hatzalah, both of whom were liaising with the IDF southern command. Each of the three sides was made aware of the central points in the region that would be used as helicopter extraction points and what to do in case of combat inside a town or village in the area. Each member of the cooperative project assigned a point person to monitor and maintain the lines of communication between the various teams in the field.

“The most important thing here is to prepare for emergency situations. The more we work together and prepare together with drills, the more we learn how the other one works, the better we will be when cooperating in real-time. We will all speak the same language and know how to work well with one another during a real crisis. This will result in the saving of more lives, so it is in our best interest to hold these kind of exercises,” said Gohar.

Gohar works as the civilian-military liaison for Kibbutz Tze’elim. He recently finished his EMT course with United Hatzalah, which was part of a special project that the organization initiated to train all of the civilian-military liaisons in the Gaza periphery as EMTs. The idea behind the course was to enable the liaisons to provide emergency medical response to the people of each town, and to help treat people long before the ambulances or medical evacuation helicopters can arrive.

Upon graduating his course, Gohar became part of Team Daniel, an initiative sponsored by members of the Chicago community to create more first responders in the areas hardest hit by Hamas during Operation Protective Edge.

Gohar was instrumental in organizing the location of the EMT course, and hosted it in his home town of Tze’elim. He also organized a mass casualty training exercise in the area in the spring of 2015.

Before signing off, Gohar hinted that further drills, even more intensive ones, will be held in the near future. “We are currently in the planning stages of conducting another practice drill of the civilian-military liaisons, as well as other United Hatzalah volunteers from Team Daniel, working with medics from the southern command. We will continue to work together with the IDF and the Eshkol Regional Council in preparing for future medical emergencies in the area, whether they be combat related or otherwise.”

“Working with United Hatzalah, which started out as a Haredi organization, and seeing how they now work with everyone, even the population here, which is largely secular, is really endearing. To see everyone being able to work together, no matter their background, is something that really touches the soul. I am proud to be part of an organization that unites people from different backgrounds this way,” Gohar concluded.