“The field hospital is “not just some medics and doctors spread out in the field,” but is a “national treasure” that has the capabilities of an advanced, permanent hospital, but can be set up almost anywhere in under 12 hours.”
(Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Ofer Merin, commander of the IDF Medical Corps’ field hospital and head of the trauma center at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center).
In 2013, the United Nation’s World Health Organization (WHO) created a set of criteria to classify foreign medical teams in sudden onset disasters, on a scale from one to three. Israel is now the only country to receive the top mark.
“Only a handful in the world could even think of” doing so in the future, said Dr. Ian Norton, Director of Disaster Preparedness and Response at the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre and head of WHO’s medical team in West Africa.
“For many years there was no internationally recognized system of categorizing emergency response teams — which could operate independently, which needed assistance from the local government in order to function, what services could they offer, etc. — information that can be crucial in a disaster situation.
Rescue workers need to know where they can take patients. When deciding which teams can come in as part of the relief effort, local governments need to know which foreign field hospitals are entirely self-sufficient and which require resources like fuel, oxygen and medications that are often scarce after a disaster.
“They cannot be a burden on the affected country. In the past, teams arrived with no equipment, and local authorities had to look after them.
"When an objective organization like the UN says that one should learn from us, it's very moving," said Dr. Ofer Merin. This Type 3 classification ensures Israel’s position as a world leader in emergency medicine.
The Israeli field hospital has been deployed to assist in humanitarian disasters around the world, including in Haiti, Nepal, the Philippines, and Japan.