The Magen David Adom (MDA) first response group responded to more than 10,000 calls for help since last Thursday, as Israel faced one of the heaviest snow storms ever to hit the country.
MDA head Eli Bin addressed the group’s volunteers during a special meeting Sunday to assess the situation. “I am aware of the tremendous efforts that have been made over the past few days in order to help every person who needs it. I want to say that I’m proud of you,” he declared.
“This is a mission of national importance, and we’ve proven ourselves capable of performing it,” he added.
MDA received a high number of calls for help in the Jerusalem area and in and around Tzfat. Thousands of people were left without electricity due to the storm in both cities.
MDA normally treats approximately 250 people per day in Jerusalem; on Thursday, the group got 1,400 calls for help in the city.
Paramedics worked together with the IDF to bring medical care even to areas which MDA’s four-by-fours could not reach. IDF vehicles brought paramedics to patients in areas cut off by snow, and assisted in evacuations.
On Friday, MDA opened a special hotline to help the elderly. The group responded to calls by bringing elderly people to relatives’ homes, or another place of their choosing, in order to ensure that they would not spend the coldest hours of the storm alone without heating.
MDA transported over 200 elderly people and families with very young children that were left without electricity to places where they could get food, water, heating and other basic needs.
MDA warns: remain cautious!
MDA issued a warning to the public Sunday to remain cautious even though the worst of the storm has passed.
The group called to avoid driving when possible. The current conditions, which make icy roads likely, are actually more dangerous than snow, the group explained.
Frostbite and hypothermia remain threats. MDA reminded the public to dress warmly, and to take particular care to ensure that babies and the elderly are warm enough. However, caution must also be taken to avoid covering babies too tightly, which could create a suffocation risk.
The group also warned against heating stoves, which are a fire risk. Stoves should be kept far from beds, mattresses, cloth, and the reach of children, and should always stand on a stable surface.
When using a fire for heating, beware of CO (carbon monoxide) poisoning, MDA cautioned. Avoid lighting fires inside a home, or leaving a gas stove on in a closed room for several hours in a row.
The group also warned against staying in temporary structures, such as caravans, which could collapse in heavy snow or ice. “These buildings are a collapse risk, avoid staying inside them in stormy weather,” MDA advised.
Many electric lines are down across the country. MDA warned citizens to avoid contact with downed wires, and to contact the Electric Company immediately if they see one. If a person suffers electrocution, would-be rescuers must take care to move the victim away from the source of the shock using an object that does not conduct electricity, and should not make direct, skin-to-skin contact.
The rescuers should then contact MDA immediately (phone number: 101) for further instructions. If the victim has no pulse and is not breathing, resuscitation should begin immediately.