An Israeli disaster management coordinator with experience in responding to bombings advised local and regional emergency responders on Tuesday that when facing an event that caused multiple casualties, find the most critical and care for them first.
"We teach our people to do a very thorough examination, so if they're tending to the noncritical ones, then the critical ones are going to die," Chaim Rafalowski said.
Rafalowski was the main speaker during a training workshop hosted by the Southern Alleghenies EMS Council Medical Reserve Corps, through a grant from the Bureau of Public Health Preparedness and the National Association of County, City and Health Officials. He works for the Israeli Center for Emergency Preparedness, which makes experienced personnel available to educate others on effective response tactics.
The workshop attracted about 160 people from all across areas of Pennsylvania, many with a lot of experience in emergency response actions, Southern Alleghenies EMS Acting Director Carl Moen said. While they may not be familiar with the multiple terrorist bombings that Rafalowski lists on his resume, Moen said they share similar issues and desires in handling emergencies.
Rafalowski's resume indicates that he has been part of the teams that reacted to the 2002 bombing at Sheffield Club in Rishon Lezion, the 2003 bombing in the old central bus station, the 2002 bombing at "My Coffee Shop" in Tel Aviv and the 2001 bombing aboard a bus in the Halisa neighborhood of Haifa, all with numerous casualties.
"If you have a terrorist incident, you will have casualties all over the place," he said, but the focus needs to be on those in need of immediate care.
"If a patient is running away and screaming, we're going to assume they [are] noncritical," Rafalowski said.
He also urged those at the workshop to work with others responding to the incident, in ways that will not destroy evidence. In the case of a bus bombing, Rafalowski said it was important to leave the dead on the bus until a forensic team took pictures and collected evidence.
He also recommended scheduled training exercises so those involved have time to learn what to do and practice before the exercise. They'll be better prepared for the training exercise, he said, and to respond well during a real incident.
"We're preparing people to do it right the first time," Rafalowski said.
Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.