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Monday, April 22, 2013

Israeli doctor discovers American doctors have esprit de corps after all

An Israeli doctor finds unexpected camaraderie in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon terror attack.
David Spector wasn’t just an attending surgeon at Ichilov Hospital at Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv during the second intifada. He served in the Airborne Rescue and Evacuation Unit 669 – one of the most elite units of the Israel Air Force.
Army life, he explained, forced doctors to work together as if their country required it of them. And quite honestly, he simply didn’t expect the same camaraderie to come from Americans.
“No one in Boston is used to it, and their reactions were very different from what I expected,” he said. “They became viscerally emotional, and patriotic. Suddenly everyone was very close.”
Once it became clear that the city was under attack, a tremendous sense of community drove Spector’s colleagues in a way he hadn’t seen in the four years since he had first arrived in the US.
He characterized his reaction as a cultural mechanism that, while perhaps a byproduct of unfortunate circumstances, enables him to do his job efficiently and without emotional delay. It’s a trial-by-fire that literally comes with the territory.
And yet, while Spector tried to advise his colleagues at Tufts not to be afraid when leaving work for home – the entire city of Boston went into virtual lockdown, as the identity of the still-at-large 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was publicly revealed – he found himself reflecting on whether it was a faux sense of panic on the part of a privileged nation, or whether he himself was in someway jaded, cynical or hardened from seeing so many limbs in his past.
As Spector made his way to the hospital, he missed that golden hour of aid for the victims: when blood loss must be abated; when decisions have to be made on amputations. By the time he got there, most of those decisions had been made. And what Spector saw took him by surprise.
“In a potential mass-casualty situation, they really are well-organized, and I didn’t expect that here coming from Israel,” Spector said.
I know that Israel developed the techniques for dealing with mass casualty events (actually, an American Israeli - Dr. David Appelbaum HY"D - who was killed in a terror attack himself R"L, developed the techniques). But this article strikes me as too condescending. Yes, of course, the American doctors managed to work together. When everything is on the line, most people do what they have to do.

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At 4:19 PM, Blogger Sunlight said...

The U.S. military has also developed a huge array of technologies and procedures for IED events. Iraq and Afghanistan have meant many run-ins with the kind of IEDs (and worse) that these pressure cooker bombs were.

At 6:53 PM, Blogger glkolb said...

It's easy to underestimate the Americans. Ask Admiral Yamamoto.


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