By MYRON LOVE
Daniel Amzallag always had a fascination with all things medical, but his path was laid out for him when Magen David Adom came to his high school in Kfar Saba to do a presentation.
“I immediately signed up with Magen David Adom (Israel’s combination emergency responders and blood Services providers) for a first aid and CPR course and was hooked,” recalled Amzallag, the now Toronto-based Canadian Magen David Adom (CMDA) national media and volunteer co-ordinator, who was in Winnipeg on Wednesday, November 1, to introduce Winnipeggers to the work of MDA at a presentation at the Berney Theatre.
Amzallag’s first opportunity to put his new training to use came much sooner than he might have expected. He recalled that immediately after passing the MDA courses, he and a friend were at a local mall when a terrorist blew himself up at the mall entrance, killing the security guard and a teenager and injuring more than 50. Although injured himself, he rushed to the scene of the explosion to offer what help he could.
“The nearest MDA centre was just minutes away,” he said. “It seemed to take forever for the first ambulances to arrive but in reality it was just two to three minutes. Within 15 minutes, all of the wounded were in ambulances on the way to hospitals. I was the last to be evacuated and was released from hospital shortly after.
“Within two to three days, I signed up for the MDA’s First Responder course. The medic who treated me at the explosion became my partner and the ambulance in which I was taken to hospital became the ambulance I drove.”
Amzallag noted that Israel’s 75-year-old MDA is the world’s most efficient medical service when it comes to responding to serious situations. “In Israel,” he reported, “it takes the first First Responder less than a minute on average to reach the scene of a critical incident with an ambulance arriving within eight minutes. In Canada, the average wait time is 32 minutes.”
The MDA, he noted, has about 2,000 full time employees and 15,000 volunteers who commit to one or two shifts a week in addition to their regular jobs. In the case of critical incidents, all volunteers are potentially on call.
The organization also has at its disposal 900 ambulances (three of which were donated by the Winnipeg chapter of the CMDA) and several hundred scooters (two of which have been contributed by the Winnipeg CMDA) to allow first responders to get to critical scenes quickly in cases where traffic may be heavy.
Perhaps surprisingly to some readers, terrorist attacks only account for a small percentage (about 10%) of such critical incidents, he noted. Most such incidents are the result of traffic accidents.
And it was surprising how Amzallag defined mass casualty incidents. It isn’t the number of deaths and injuries that cause a situation to be labeled a mass casualty incident, but rather whether or not there are enough ambulances, supplies and medical personnel to handle the situation.
There have been only three situations that qualified as mass casualty incidents in his experience. One was the collapse of a banquet hall dance floor that resulted in 100 injuries. The other two were accidents involving trains.
The big one, he noted, would be a major earthquake. A major earthquake strikes the region every hundred years or so, he reported. The last major quake was in 1917.
“We expect that a major earthquake could damage up to 70% of Israel’s infrastructure,” he said. “Our hospitals are prepared to treat up to half a million casualties.”
To provide additional support for situations –such as a war or earthquake that may strain Israel’s medical response capability, Amzallag noted, the MDA introduced a program a couple of years ago which recruits doctors in other countries (France and Canada, so far) who are willing to come to Israel to help to be trained in MDA procedures.
Amzallag provided an overview of how assignments are divided up in incidents where there are a number of dead and injured. The first responder, rather than immediately treating the injured, becomes instead the co-ordinator directing responders who arrive later where to go and which of the injured need to receive priority attention.
This chain of command structure was implemented in response a 1990 terrorist incident on a bus winding its way down the highway leading from Jerusalem. The terrorist forced the bus off the road down the mountain. As this was before the advent of cell phones, the call came from a motorist who witnessed the incident. The first two MDA personnel who arrived on the scene looked down, saw 60-70 people below in distress and went down to help – leaving the MDA dispatcher in the dark. The second pair of responders did the same. It was only the third pair on the scene that thought to contact the dispatcher to report on the situation.
Amzallag also pointed out that even though all MDA personnel are trained in CPR, they are not allowed to perform CPR where there are a lot of injured. The priority is first to help those who will benefit from quick treatment rather than those who may be dying.
Amzallag’s most traumatic event, as was noted before, was early in his MDA work when he was among the first at the scene of a terrorist bombing. The first person he saw was a teenage girl on the ground. “My first impulse was to perform CPR,” he recalled. “I knelt and checked her pulse. Although her eyes were open, she had no pulse. Then I noticed another dozen people laying around. I left the girl to treat other people.
“The next day, I went to one of the hospitals to visit two of the people I had treated. As I was leaving, a man in a wheelchair came up to me and said that he forgave me and that he understood. He was the father of the teenager and had seen me leave her to help others. That was the hardest decision that I have ever had to make and his words broke me up. I went back every day while he was in hospital to see him and every day he would tell me that he wasn’t mad at me and that he forgave me.”
It is not only in Israel that the Magen David Adom saves lives and trains people in first aid and CPR, Amzallag noted. MDA goes into action worldwide wherever disaster strikes. Whether it’s an earthquake in Haiti or Turkey or major flooding in Houston or Puerto Rico, the MDA is among the first on the scene.
The MDA also trains first responders in a number of countries.
“It’s a great feeling not only to be able to save lives but also to teach others to save lives too,” Amzallag concluded.
If you would like to donate to Canadian Magen David Adom, go to https://www.cmdai.org
Hamas murdered their friend. Now, they help Israeli soldiers to keep his memory alive
By VIRGINIA ALLEN (The Daily Signal) David Newman sent a text to a friend the morning of Saturday, Oct. 7. Something terrible had happened. Word quickly spread among Newman’s group of friends, who had known each other since high school.
Newman, 25, had traveled the night before to the music festival in southern Israel, close to the border with the Gaza Strip. It was supposed to be a fun weekend with his girlfriend “celebrating life,” something Newman, who served with the Israel Defense Forces, was good at and loved to do, friend Gidon Hazony recalls.
When Hazony learned that Newman, his longtime friend, was in danger, he and another friend decided they were “going to go down and try and save him.” Trained as a medic and armed with a handgun and bulletproof vest, Hazony started driving south from Jerusalem.
Hazony and his friend ended up joining with other medical personnel and “treated probably around 50 soldiers and civilians in total that day,” Hazony recalls, but they kept trying to make it south to rescue Newman.
But the two “never made it down to the party, and that’s probably for the best,” Hazony says, “because that area was completely taken over by terrorists. And if we had gone down there, I think we would’ve been killed.”
Hazony later learned that Hamas terrorists had murdered Newman on Oct. 7, but not before Newman had saved nearly 300 lives, including the life of his girlfriend.
When the terrorists began their attack on the music festival, many attendees began running to their cars. But Newman and his girlfriend encountered a police officer who warned them to run the opposite direction because the terrorists were near the vehicles, says David Gani, another friend of Newman’s.
Newman “ran in the opposite direction with his girlfriend and whoever else he could kind of corral with him,” Gani explains during an interview on “The Daily Signal Podcast.”
“They saw two industrial garbage cans, big containers, and so David told everyone, ‘Hide, hide in those containers,’” Gani says. “And so what he did over the course of the next few hours is, he would take people and … he was this big guy, and he would just chuck them in that container. And then he would go in, wait, wait till the coast is clear, and then he’d go back out, find more people, put them in there.”
Newman’s actions that day, and the atrocities Hazony and so many others in Israel witnessed Oct. 7, led Hazony, Gani, and several friends to quit their jobs and set up a nonprofit called Soldiers Save Lives. The organization is working to collect tactical and humanitarian aid for the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF.
According to the group’s website, Soldiers Save Lives has supplied over 20 IDF units and civilian response teams “with protective and self-defense gear.”
Gani, board chairman, chief financial officer, and chief technology officer of Soldiers Save Lives, and Hazony, president of the organization, recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to raise support and awareness for their mission to provide IDF troops with needed supplies.
If you would like to find out more about Soldiers Save Lives or donate to them, go to https://www.soldierssavelives.org/
Reprinted with permission.
Our New Jewish Reality
By HENRY SREBRNIK Since Oct. 7, we Jews have been witnessing an ongoing political and psychological pogrom. True, there have been no deaths (so far), but we’ve seen the very real threat of mobs advocating violence and extensive property damage of Jewish-owned businesses, and all this with little forceful reaction from the authorities.
The very day after the carnage, Canadians awoke to the news that the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust had inspired sustained celebrations in its major cities. And they have continued ever since. I’d go so far as to say the Trudeau government has, objectively, been more interested in preventing harm to Gazans than caring about the atrocities against Israelis and their state.
For diaspora Jews, the attacks of Oct. 7 were not distant overseas events and in this country since then they have inspired anti-Semitism, pure and simple, which any Jew can recognize. Even though it happened in Israel, it brought back the centuries-old memories of defenseless Jews being slaughtered in a vicious pogrom by wild anti-Semites.
I think this has shocked, deeply, most Jews, even those completely “secular” and not all that interested in Judaism, Israel or “Zionism.” Jewish parents, especially, now fear for their children in schools and universities. The statements universities are making to Jewish students across the country could not be clearer: We will not protect you, they all but scream. You’re on your own.
But all this has happened before, as we know from Jewish history. Long before Alfred Dreyfus and Theodor Herzl, the 1881 pogroms in tsarist Russia led to an awakening of proto-Zionist activity there, with an emphasis on the land of Israel. There were soon new Jewish settlements in Palestine.
The average Jew in Canada now knows that his or her friend at a university, his co-worker in an office, and the people he or she socializes with, may in fact approve, or at least not disapprove, of what happened that day in Israel. Acquaintances or even close friends may care far more about Israel killing Palestinians in Gaza. Such people may even believe what we may call “Hamas pogrom denial,” already being spread. Many people have now gone so far in accepting the demonization of Israel and Jews that they see no penalty attached to public expressions of Jew-hatred. Indeed, many academics scream their hatred of Israel and Jews as loud as possible.
One example: On Nov. 10, Toronto officers responded to a call at an Indigo bookstore located in the downtown. It had been defaced with red paint splashed on its windows and the sidewalk, and posters plastered to its windows.
The eleven suspects later arrested claimed that Indigo founder Heather Reisman (who is Jewish) was “funding genocide” because of her financial support of the HESEG Foundation for Lone Soldiers, which provides scholarships to foreign nationals who study in Israel after serving in the Israeli armed forces. By this logic, then, most Jewish properties and organizations could be targeted, since the vast majority of Jews are solidly on Israel’s side.
Were these vandals right-wing thugs or people recently arrived from the Middle East? No, those charged were mostly white middle-class professionals. Among them are figures from academia, the legal community, and the public education sector. Four are academics connected to York University (one of them a former chair of the Sociology Department) and a fifth at the University of Toronto; two are elementary school teachers; another a paralegal at a law firm.
Were their students and colleagues dismayed by this behaviour? On the contrary. Some faculty members, staff and students at the university staged a rally in their support. These revelations have triggered discussions about the role and responsibilities of educators, given their influential positions in society.
You’ve heard the term “quiet quitting.” I think many Jews will withdraw from various clubs and organizations and we will begin to see, in a sense like in the 1930s, a reversal of assimilation, at least in the social sphere. (Of course none of this applies to Orthodox Jews, who already live this way.)
Women in various feminist organizations may form their own groups or join already existing Jewish women’s groups. There may be an increase in attendance in K-12 Jewish schools. In universities, “progressive” Jewish students will have to opt out of organizations whose members, including people they considered friends, have been marching to the slogan “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and similar eliminationist rhetoric, while waving Palestinian flags.
This will mostly affect Jews on the left, who may be supporters of organizations which have become carriers of anti-Semitism, though ostensibly dealing with “human rights,” “social justice,” and even “climate change.”
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg took part in a demonstration outside the Israeli Embassy in Stockholm on Oct. 22 in which she chanted “crush Zionism” along with hundreds of other anti-Israel protesters. Israel is now unthinkingly condemned as a genocidal apartheid settler-colonialist state, indeed, the single most malevolent country in the world and the root of all evil.
New York Times Columnist Bret Stephens expressed it well in his Nov. 7 article. “Knowing who our friends aren’t isn’t pleasant, particularly after so many Jews have sought to be personal friends and political allies to people and movements that, as we grieved, turned their backs on us. But it’s also clarifying.”
Henry Srebrnik is a professor of political science at the University of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown.
Former Winnipegger Vivian Silver, at first thought to have been taken hostage, has now been confirmed dead
Former Winnipegger and well-known Israeli peace activist Vivian Silver has now been confirmed as having been killed during the massacre of Israelis and foreign nationals perpetrated by Hamas terrorists on October 7. Vivian, a resident of Kibbutz Be’eri was originally thought to be among the more than 1200 individuals who were taken hostage by Hamas.
To read the full story on the CBC website, go to https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/israel-gaza-vivian-silver-1.7027333