Daily Israel Report

IDF Folds Up in Haiti after 294 Life-Saving Operations

IDF medics have treated their last patients in Haiti after treating 960 people and performing 294 life-saving operations in less than two weeks.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 1/26/2010, 8:54 PM / Last Update: 1/26/2010, 11:25 PM

IDF medics have treated their last patients in Haiti after treating 960 people, performing 294 life-saving operations and delivering 16 babies in Haiti in less than two weeks. The rescue unit saved or helped save four people after the tragic earthquake shook the island nation two weeks ago.

The medical and rescue teams are packing up their equipment and preparing to board a Wednesday flight that will arrive home Thursday afternoon. However, they are leaving behind medical supplies and light equipment and tents for use by other medical personnel.

One of the factors in deciding to end the emergency help program was the belated arrival of units from the United States and other countries as well as local hospitals having returned to full operation.

“We came to Haiti to assist, to save lives and to reach out, but above all, to give hope,” Field Hospital director Col. Itzik Kreis told the medical and rescue personnel at a closing ceremony. “We are here to show that even in the toughest situations, one can still be a symbol of hope, wherever he is.

“Few others have this strength, this willingness and this determination to help.”

Israel’s assistance was highlighted on more than a dozen major networks, including Fox News, Associated Press, Sky News, CBS, ABC and NBC.

The field hospital included 40 doctors, 25 nurses, paramedics, a pharmacy, a children's ward, a radiology department, an intensive care unit, an emergency room, two operating rooms, a surgical department, an internal department and a maternity ward.  

Dozens of children were treated at the hospital, including two young siblings who were rescued from the rubble after seven days by an American search and rescue team. The brother and sister were in good condition, and were released from the Israeli field hospital later the same day.

Other Israeli relief efforts were provided by a six-man ZAKA delegation that was dispatched to the collapsed eight-story university building where cries could be heard from the trapped students. After 38 hours of work around the clock working with the Mexican military delegation and other Jewish volunteers from Mexico, the ZAKA volunteers succeeded in pulling eight students alive from the rubble.

One of the most startling moments for local residents was seeing the ZAKA team wrapped in prayer shawls and facing Jerusalem on the Sabbath for prayers. At the end of the prayers, the locals crowded around the delegation and kissed the prayer shawls.

The IsraAID medical team also arrived soon after the disaster hit Haiti and treated injured in Port-au-Prince Hospital, where most of the wounded were outside the building, lying in beds in the building's garden. The IsraAID team set up treatment rooms in four empty rooms, treating 60 patients with IV and administered medicine.