Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, has no diplomatic relations with Israel. Despite this gulf, five medical experts from Indonesia are currently at Rambam, learning to build a system for treating victims of catastrophe, both natural and manmade.

Rambam, 27 doctors and nurses from 17 countries are taking part in a unique simulation. This staged Mass Casualty Event (MCE) is not unusual in itself. What is special is the human mosaic of participants from Albania, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Burma, Georgia, India, Vietnam, Jordan, Nepal, Kenya, Nigeria, Chile, Peru, Kosovo, Thailand, Ghana and New Zealand. Even Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in world, which has no formal diplomatic relations with Israel, has sent five representatives.

The simulation is part of the eighth course of its kind, titled the “Eighth Seminar on Developing and Organizing a Trauma System and Mass Casualty Event (MCE) Organization. Held from November 6-19, the course is jointly sponsored by Rambam, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Health. It is aimed to teach participants to develop systems for medical operations in emergency, trauma and MCE situations suited to their countries.

Of course, the seminar’s Rambam setting is no coincidence. RHCC ‘enjoys’ the dubious distinction of being an expert in trauma, emergency and mass casualty situations. For years, the hospital has received soldiers injured on Israel’s northern border and beyond, as well as civilians caught in home front wars and terrorist attacks in Northern Israel.
“In the course, we learn how to build a system for operating in emergency, trauma and MCE. We did not come to seek medical information, but guidance on how to get organized in case of these situations,” said Prof of Neurology Andi Asadul Islam, from Hassan Udim University, Makassar, East Indonesia. “Rambam’s system for trauma is the best there is, and we can learn a lot from it.”

“We don’t have a good system,” continued Prof Islam, who explained that Indonesia’s broad geography presents specific challenges in supplying medical care. With 250 million citizens scattered among five large islands and thousands of smaller ones, Indonesia spans an area, from west to east, equal to the length of the United States.

Further, RHCC houses the only trauma system in the region. Severe trauma patients from nine general hospitals feed into Rambam, making it the busiest center for trauma in Israel. The hospital’s Teaching Center for Trauma, Emergency and Mass Casualty Situations [MCS] leads instruction in this field nationwide, and regularly holds international seminars for physicians and nurses from throughout the world. In addition, the center sends representatives to different countries to teach courses and holds workshops for NATO personnel.

“I had heard about the Rambam course from colleagues who had taken it, and they said it was great,” said Asti Puspita Rini, who manages the 118 Emergency Ambulance Service Foundation in Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta. “It has been an excellent course,” she continued, “we won’t be able to implement each and every thing we learned, but will certainly adopt parts of the program.”

The course involves theoretical lectures, as well as tours in Rambam and different Israeli hospitals. This program allows participants to receive a wide view of activities of the various emergency medicine units. Additionally, they visit IDF simulation centers, and Magen David Adom (MADA) headquarters.

The seminar is hardly all-work-and-no-play. Participants get to know another side of Israel as they visit a number of tourist sites, among them Yad Vashem, and other sites in Jerusalem, Nazareth, Jaffa, Acre, Zichron Yaakov and others

“As a Muslim, it was especially interesting for me to see the Muslim quarter in Jerusalem,” said Prof Islam. “Some of my friends and family were afraid and didn’t want me to come here because of what they see on television,” said Rini, “but it’s totally different than what the media shows.”

“Everything is well-organized and perfect,” added Dr Edi Prasetyo, Medical Advisor of Home Care in Jakarta. “We get to see the big picture – how the whole nationwide system works.”

Judging from these comments, it was obvious that the only connections these Indonesians do not have with Israel are diplomatic. Warm, open and enthusiastic, these visitors had nothing negative to say about the course or the country, except perhaps regarding the national food, hummus, for which they showed no great passion.

And while the visitors clearly learned their lessons on trauma, emergency and MCE, one hopes they will never have to use them.

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