As rescuers battle bitterly cold conditions and the chance of finding survivors from Monday’s earthquakes begins to run out of time, the Israel Defense Forces sent a second delegation of 230 medical staff to Turkey to set up a field hospital to treat the injured.
The delegation, which arrived in southeast Turkey on Wednesday, includes trauma specialists, surgeons, anesthesiologists, orthopedic doctors, pediatricians, intensive care specialists and emergency medicine doctors.
The field hospital will include operating rooms, trauma units, X-ray machines and laboratories.
In a statement, the IDF said: “The delegation will establish a field hospital and focus on providing medical treatment using advanced equipment brought in from Israel.”
The medical delegation will assist an earlier 150-person Home Front Command search and rescue team “We are arriving when there’s still a chance to find people alive” – ISRAEL21c, which has been operating on the ground in Turkey since Tuesday evening.
Since Tuesday night, IDF rescue forces have managed to rescue four earthquake survivors from the rubble, including a 23-year-old woman with a broken hip and children.
“Israeli forces and Turkish forces are working together to try to find people in the rubble,” said David Saranga, the Director of Digital Diplomacy at Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who accompanied the mission.
The Israeli rescue team just started the operation to try and find survivors ???????????????? pic.twitter.com/YIGJkOnDZg
— David Saranga (@DavidSaranga) February 7, 2023
More than 11, 200 have died in the earthquake, which hit the Turkish-Syrian border, and thousands more are still feared to be buried in the wreckage of collapsed buildings and apartment blocks.
This is not the first time that the IDF has sent its field hospital in the wake of a disaster. In March last year, the IDF set up its field hospital within war-torn Ukraine to help Ukrainians injured in the Russian invasion.
The IDF also set up a 260-person field hospital in Kathmandu in the wake of the devastating earthquake in 2015.
In 2017, the World Health Organization recognized the IDF field hospital as the leader in field medicine and disaster relief.
The field hospital in Turkey will be led by Col. Elad Edri, the commander of the Home Front Command Search and Rescue Brigade.
Tel Aviv Belediye Başkanı Ron Huldai’nin talimatıyla Tel Aviv Belediyesi binası Türk halkına destek için bu akşam Türk Bayrağı ile aydınlatıldı. pic.twitter.com/TAFvbBoL2f
— İsrail Türkiye’de (@IsraelinTurkey) February 6, 2023
“This is a difficult hour for the Turkish nation, and we are proud that we can come and assist,” said Brig. Gen. Dr. Elon Glassberg, the chief of the IDF Medical Corps in a statement.
“The ability to send a hospital to another country is a unique ability. Few countries are able to do such a thing and we are proud to be the ones to come and help.”
Other Israeli aid groups now at the scene in Turkey include United Hatzalah, which sent a delegation of 25 first responders and search and rescue experts to Turkey on Tuesday with 10 tons of medical supplies and humanitarian aid.
The delegation, which is working in coordination with local rescue services and the IDF Home Front Command operation, includes doctors, paramedics, EMT’s and members of the Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit.
“The amount of damage wrought by the earthquakes is enormous. We are bringing all of our knowledge and manpower from previous experiences responding to disasters to assist in the rescue efforts currently taking place in Turkey,” said Vice President of Operations for United Hatzalah Dov Maisel.
“We are all part of the global family and it is our duty to assist when tragedy strikes,” added Eli Beer, President and Founder of United Hatzalah.
On Tuesday, NGO IsraAID also sent a delegation of experts to Turkey, and a day earlier, another Israeli aid organization, SmartAID, also sent out help.
Over 380,000 people are thought to be homeless in Turkey after the quake, and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who declared a state of emergency in 10 provinces, said that 13 million people out of Turkey’s 85 million population have been affected by the quake.