Magen David Adom (MDA) is using its mass-casualty experience as Israel’s national paramedic organization and its standing as a leading member in the International Committee of the Red Cross to help save lives in Ukraine, Poland, Moldova and Israel. Last week, American Friends of Magen David Adom (AFMDA) launched a Ukraine Emergency Appeal to support these efforts.
“As a Red Cross affiliate, we’re working to help refugees and the wounded as much as possible, and this is how we will continue to act,” said Eli Bin, MDA director-general.
As the attacks have escalated, MDA has flown four armored ambulances to Poland, which will be driven into Ukraine to evacuate the wounded from the most volatile areas. Russian- and Ukrainian-speaking paramedics are being sent to Moldova to staff a triage clinic and assist injured and ill Ukrainians at the border. And as a result of an assessment mission to Poland, MDA will establish a field clinic there, once approved by the Polish government.
Felix Lotan was one of the paramedics sent to assess the refugee situation in Poland. “It’s heartbreaking,” he said. “Most of the refugees are women and children and they have a deep sadness and fear of being left widows.” The manager of MDA’s international disaster department, Lotan has seen a number of disasters, including earthquakes in Haiti and Nepal. “But nothing was like what I saw here.”
“The International Red Cross has asked us to assist the German Red Cross in evacuating patients from Odessa to Moldova,” said Uri Shacham, deputy director-general and chief of staff for MDA who is also MDA’s liaison to the Red Cross movement. “Our paramedics are also part of Israel’s delegation to establish a field hospital in western Ukraine.”
In Israel, MDA is responding to the needs of the thousands of Ukrainian refugees who have arrived. A humanitarian hotline, staffed by Ukrainian and Russian speakers, was established to help them locate missing relatives, provide medical assistance, and navigate the social and governmental agencies for needed services.
“We are working vigorously to ease the trauma experienced by the refugees who have been torn from their homes and families,” said Bin. “We hope to reunite them with loved ones and provide them with some comfort and closure.” To that end, MDA has loaned a Mobile Command and Control Center to Kfar Chabad in Israel to help coordinate evacuation plans and provide assistance to Jews in Ukraine.
“Whether the innocent are attacked in Israel or Ukraine, Magen David Adom is there to save lives,” said Catherine Reed, AFMDA’s chief executive officer. “Our Ukraine Emergency Appeal is supporting EMTs and paramedics working near the conflict, and providing lifesaving supplies, equipment, vehicles, and services for Ukrainians seeking temporary or permanent refuge in Israel.”