Five medical experts from Indonesia are graduating Thursday from a course at Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center on coping with natural and man-made catastrophes.
They are among a group of 27 physicians and nurses from 17 countries taking part in a simulated mass casualty event (MCE).
Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim country, but it has no diplomatic relations with Israel.
Rambam management said the simulation is part of the eighth course of its kind, being held from November 6 through the end of this week. It is jointly sponsored by Rambam, the Foreign Ministry and the Health Ministry.
Rambam’s staffers are experts in trauma, emergency and mass casualty situations due to being the main hospital in the North. For years, the hospital has received soldiers injured on the northern border and beyond, as well as civilians caught in home-front wars and terrorist attacks.
“In the course, we learn how to build a system for operating in emergency, trauma and MCE. We did not come to seek medical information, but guidance on how to get organized in case of these situations,” said neurology professor Andi Asadul Islam, from Hassan Udim University in Makassar, Indonesia. “Rambam’s system for trauma is the best there is, and we can learn a lot from it.”
The group will receive their diplomas at the ceremony at Rambam.
“We don’t have a good system,” Islam continued. Indonesia’s broad geography presents specific challenges in supplying medical care, he explained. With some 250 million citizens scattered among five large islands and thousands of smaller ones, Indonesiaspans an area, from west to east, equal to the length of the US.
Rambam also houses the only trauma system in the North, serving nine general hospitals who cannot take care of severe-trauma patients. The hospital’s Teaching Center for Trauma, Emergency and Mass Casualty Situations leads instruction in this field nationwide and regularly holds international seminars for doctors and nurses from around the world. The center also sends representatives to different countries to teach courses and holds workshops for NATO personnel.
“I had heard about the Rambam course from colleagues who had taken it, and they said it was great,” said Asti Puspita Rini, who manages the 118 Emergency Ambulance Service Foundation in Jakarta, the capital. “It has been an excellent course… We won’t be able to implement each and every thing we learned but will certainly adopt parts of the program.”
The course involves theoretical lectures and enables participants to receive a wide view of the activities of the various emergency medicine units. They also visit IDF simulation centers and Magen David Adom headquarters.
The foreign participants are also taken to national and tourist sites, including the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.
“As a Muslim, it was especially interesting for me to see the Muslim Quarter in Jerusalem,” said Islam. “Some of my friends and family were afraid and didn’t want me to come here because of what they see on TV,” said Rini, “but it’s totally different than what the media show.”
They were also introduced to humous.
“Everything is well-organized and perfect,” said Dr. Edi Prasetyo, medical adviser on home care in Jakarta. “We get to see the big picture – how the whole nationwide systemworks.”
Nature and Parks Authority warden Yoram Malka set out Tuesday for a routine patrol to monitor the birds in the Hula Nature Reserve, but he was also keeping his sharp eyes peeled for a specific type of frog.
Malka had previously promised the scientists researching the reserve that he would once again locate the Hula painted frog, a species of frog that was unique to Israel and was thought to have become extinct more than 50 years ago. This week he kept his promise.
“I saw something jump that didn’t look familiar,” said Malka. “I rushed over and caught a frog, and when I turned it over I saw that it had a black belly with white spots, the identifying mark of the painted frog. I immediately returned [with it] to the reserve’s office and took out the animal handbook, and I saw that what I had found look exactly like the painted frog that appears in the handbook.”
Malka’s discovery shocked conservationists and scientists who deal with this field in Israel. The Hula painted frog had been one of the primary symbols of natural extinction in Israel after it had disappeared following the drying of Lake Hula in the 1950s.
Dr. Sarig Gafni of Ruppin Academic Center’s School of Marine Sciences, an expert in amphibians, was immediately summoned to the reserve, and he arrived with the original scientific paper from 1940 in which the Hula painted frog was described.
“We went through the article, sign by sign, and checked all the indicators, including the distance between the eyes, and it is indeed a Hula Painted Frog,” said Gafni. “It’s very exciting; to me it’s like finding the Dead Sea Scrolls of nature conservation in Israel. We must remember that in the past, only three adult samples of this species had ever been found.”
According to Dr. Dana Milstein, an ecologist with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, the rare frog got its Hebrew name – agulashon shehor-gahon – from its black belly and round tongue, which, unlike that of other frogs, is not used to catch prey.
For years Israeli researchers have been trying to locate the frog, searching in and around every spring and streambed in the area where the Hula marshes were dried up, but without success. Thus it was assumed that the act of drying up the Hula and the destruction of other natural habitats through pollution and development had sealed the fate of this unique species.
Milstein believes that the frog’s discovery is linked to environmental improvements in the Hula reserve.
“In recent years, the water quality has improved, after they started to pour water from fish ponds and nearby springs into the reserve,” she said.
The IPNA’s next mission is to determine whether there are more frogs aside from the one discovered, which is apparently female.
The fate of the captured frog has yet to be determined. Gafni hopes to be able to return it to the wild as quickly as possible.