On October 7, 2023, the Palestinian group Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel at dawn during the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah – with armed assailants breaching security barriers and a barrage of rockets fired from Gaza. The attack came 50 years and a day after Egyptian and Syrian forces launched an assault during the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur in an effort to retrieve territory Israel had taken during a brief conflict in 1967.
As the world has seen, terrorists entered Israel. Militants burst into houses, shooting residents begging for their lives and taking others – including women, children and the elderly – hostage, driving the terrified captives back into Gaza.
Operating as part of the initial and ongoing response to the events unfolding in Israel is United Hatzalah, a network of more than 6,500 EMS volunteers, with a fleet of emergency medical vehicles, who in peacetime, are able to respond to more than 2,000 medical emergencies per day in an average response time of less than 3 minutes (and in major cities, often less than 90 seconds). Since October 7, United Hatzalah has been pushed to its absolute limits and has expended the majority of its disposable medical equipment.
In this special edition of EMS One-Stop, Rob Lawrence speaks with Dov Maisel, United Hatzalah’s Vice President of Operations.
Donate to support United Hatzalah’s EMS response: United Hatzalah – Israel is at War | The Chesed Fund
TOP QUOTES FROM THIS EPISODE
“We are a multi-faith organization, but we are an organization of human beings. What we’ve underwent here in the past week has nothing to do with human beings. This is barbaric. This is something that I’ve never witnessed. And I’ve been through terror waves here in my 30 years of EMS. I’ve seen buses blown up. I’ve seen suicide bombers in dozens. Nothing on this scale. This is something that Isis did, we all remember watching the videos of what ISIS did, years ago. This overcomes all of that.” — Dov Maisel
“I would say that the amount of tourniquets that we put out in the first 36 hours was in the thousands ... thousands of tourniquets. We treated over 3,000 victims on the ground. The amount of tourniquets, bandages, chest seals, trachs, chest drains, needle applications, tubes that were put out in this first 36, 48 hours of operation is more than what we use, I would say in half a year.” — Dov Maisel
“Our ground rule is in EMS, you don’t enter a danger zone, but the volunteers getting on the radios with me, I was in HQ when it started, before I headed actually down to the field – they’re calling and screaming for help … the IDF soldiers that started the defense process were understaffed and they had no capabilities to rescue the victims out from the scene. And our volunteers simply, I told them, ‘it’s up to you. Literally, it’s up to you;’ and they all went in.” — Dov Maisel
“There were so many, just try to wrap your thoughts around having 3, 4, 5, 10 gunshot wound patients thrown at you – at one or two medics with one ambulance. You can’t pile them up one on top of another. You had volunteers going with their private cars, throw them in the backseats, literally with tourniquets on them. Imagine – tourniquets on all extremities, all extremities, needle in their chest, chest seals – thrown in the back seats of cars driven out two, three kilometers out to the ambulance crews that were waiting there that can treat them.” — Dov Maisel
ABOUT OUR GUEST
With 30 years of experience, Dov Maisel has dedicated his life to saving the lives of others. When Dov was just 9 years old, he was walking home from school when he witnessed a horrific accident in which a 6-year-old girl was hit by a bus. He decided he never wanted to be helpless when someone in his vicinity so desperately needed lifesaving treatment.
By the age of 14, he began volunteering on an ambulance. Maisel has served as a combat paramedic in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in four different wars. After his army service, he began working as an EMT, dispatcher and driver for Israel’s national ambulance service. During the 2000-2003 terror wave in Israel, Maisel personally responded to and managed EMS teams at thousands of terror attacks.
Maisel is the inventor and developer of numerous medical devices, including a pocket BVM airway management device, which is used internationally in many armies, including the U.S. Military. In 2006, he was one of the founders of United Hatzalah, Israel’s first all-volunteer EMS organization. He serves as the director of operations, managing national and international operations along with the Israeli police, IDF and Ministry of Health as well as other government bodies. He invented what is now United Hatzalah’s Uber-like GPS-based dispatch system which locates and sends the EMT closest to the medical emergency.
Maisel graduated from several NATO- and Red Cross-led international workshops on disaster management and led international relief missions in Haiti, Nepal, Mumbai and, most recently, in both Houston and Florida, after the devasting hurricanes, as the head of international operations of United Hatzalah.
He continues to serve as a volunteer, instructor and mass casualty incident manager. He has received the Israel President’s Award for volunteerism and sits on the International Editorial Board of JEMS Magazine.