The World Health Organization has recognized Israel’s medical rescue teams and Israel Defence Forces’ field hospital as Type 3, the highest ranking for any foreign medical rescue team and field hospital in the world. (photo from United Hatzalah)
On Nov. 28, the World Health Organization (WHO) began a three-day meeting in Hong Kong, during which they recognized Israel’s medical rescue teams and Israel Defence Forces’ field hospital as Type 3, the highest ranking for any foreign medical rescue team and field hospital in the world. Israeli Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Hotovely attended on behalf of Israel.
United Hatzalah, Israel’s national volunteer emergency medical services organization, and the Israelife Foundation, a conglomerate of Israel-based rescue organizations that respond to disasters worldwide, welcomed the award.
“We want to praise and thank all of the dedicated volunteers, staff and soldiers in all of the rescue services throughout the country. Their dedication and selfless acts of kindness in saving lives at home and abroad are officially being recognized on the world stage and, due to their efforts, Israel has become a world leader,” said Dov Maisel, United Hatzalah vice-president of international operations.
With the ceremony, Israel became the 17th foreign medical team to be classified by WHO, and it currently boasts the highest ranking. The process to achieve the ranking took nearly a year of in-depth reviews to ensure that Israel’s field hospitals met all of the criteria.
Besides the simple value of recognition, the Type 3 classification will also have some real ramifications. The classification ensures that Israeli rescue and medical teams will be the first allowed on the scene of future disasters regardless of where they happen and it will further cement Israel’s position as a world leader in emergency medicine.
Israel is not only the only Type 3 medical response team in the world, it is also the only one to be recognized by WHO that comprises a “military component” in the form of the IDF field hospital. Some aspects of the classification deal with the ethics of emergency care, and having a military branch receive the Type 3 classification highlights the ethical standing of that body.
The person behind the WHO classification system is Dr. Ian Norton, a specialist in emergency medicine and former head of his native Australia’s emergency response team. Norton developed the WHO system – which ranks foreign medical teams into Type 1, Type 2 and Type 3 – in 2013.
The different types refer to the number of patients that can be treated and the level of difficulty of the procedures that can be offered by a medical response team. Even with the high standards, Israel’s field hospital surpasses the requirements, offering more medical care than is required to be classified as Type 3. For example, the Times of Israel reported that a Type 3 field hospital needs 40 inpatient beds, whereas Israel’s has 86, and a Type 3 ranking requires the hospital to have two operating rooms, whereas Israel’s has four. Israel also qualified for the Type 3 category by employing teams that offer additional “specialized care,” such as burn units, dialysis units, obstetrics and gynecology teams, and reconstructive plastic surgery units. The IDF field hospital also received accolades for its abilities to provide exemplary levels of plastic surgery, and obstetrics and gynecology care. These latter qualifications establish the team as a “Type 3 plus.”
In addition to the field hospital, Israel was praised for the work done by its volunteer evacuation and emergency response teams, such as United Hatzalah, Zaka and Israelife. These teams of volunteer responders have conducted search and rescue operations and provided emergency medical services in disasters all over the world. Most recently, United Hatzalah sent Maisel, an emergency paramedic, to be a medical liaison and consultant as part of the Jet911 multinational response team that responded to the destruction caused by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti in October.
Other disasters to which the IDF field hospital and Israel medical response teams have responded include the earthquake in Turkey in 1999, the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, the typhoon in the Philippines in 2013 and the devastating earthquake that shook Nepal in 2015.
To see a recent interview with Maisel on this topic, visit i24news.tv/en/tv/replay/the-lineup/x53qmiz.