21 March 2017

Magen David Adom ~ מגן דוד אדום

Magen David Adom  literally translates as the Red Star of David.  It is "Israel's only national medical emergency, disaster, ambulance and blood service".  The ambulances are a frequent sight and can be seen criss-crossing the city at high speed ferrying patients to hospital in medical emergencies with their sirens blaring.  There are also mobile lorries (trucks) which are stationed at various times of the year in prominent spots throughout the city collecting donations of blood for their blood banks.

 Since June 2006, Magen David Adom has been officially recognized by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) as the national aid society of the State of Israel under the Geneva Conventions, and a member of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. MDA has a dedicated medical emergency phone number in Israel, 101.

 The Magen David Adom organization was formed by nurse Karen Tenenbaum in 1930 as a volunteer association with a single branch in Tel Aviv. After opening branches in Jerusalem and Haifa, it was extended nationwide five years later, providing medical support to the public including not only Jews, but Arabs (Muslim, Druze, and Christian). On 12 July 1950, the Knesset passed a law making MDA's status as Israel's national emergency service official; The objectives of Magen David include maintaining first aid services; maintaining a storage service of blood, plasma and their by-products; instruction in first aid and pre-hospital emergency medicine; operating a volunteer program in which volunteers are trained in first aid, basic and advanced life support including mobile intensive care units; transportation of patients, women in labor, and evacuation of those wounded and killed in road accidents; transportation of doctors, nurses and medical auxiliary forces. In the late 1960s the organization refocused its rapid trauma treatment and transport protocols due to the efforts of Dr. Nancy Caroline. Dr. Caroline's work at Magen David Adom was based upon studies she conducted with Dr. Peter Safar and the Freedom House Paramedics of Pittsburgh.

 Magen David Adom is mainly staffed by volunteers, and has over 10,000 people volunteering over one million man-hours per year. The minimum age to join Magen David Adom's basic first aid course and become a volunteer is 15. All volunteers pass a 60-hour course that covers a wide range of topics ranging from common medical conditions and trauma situations to mass casualty events. Those who pass the course are then dispatched throughout the country and work with local volunteers in ambulances to provide initial medical care on the regular and Mobile Intensive Care Ambulances.

Seeing the Magen David Adom mobile lorry (truck) collecting donations of blood made me wonder what the criteria is for donating blood?  I thought to myself, who can give blood?  Obviously there are a range of criteria to ensure blood safety so that not only is it safe for certain individuals to give blood but also that the donated blood is safe enough to be given to patients.  The following website explains Who can give blood?  Do have a read to find out if you are eligible to give blood.  I believe giving blood ought to be seen as a civic duty.  It is a selfless act which can benefit people in need.  What could be more precious than giving someone the gift of life?
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