Joshua Diamond is Fundraising Manager for MDA UK. Heartbeat is a series of multi-formatted blogs that are a new window into the work of Magen David Adom across a range of genres.

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15th December 2022

On the night shift

Notification pops up. An elderly man is laying in the road, we think he has been knocked down by a car. Some blood on his face but he is responsive.

Off we go. The night had been relatively quiet until then, we had a full tour of all the equipment in the ambulance, heard that Gilad is a New Jersey born Oleh (immigrant) and now senior in his hi-tech start up and completes shifts as an ambulance driver when he can. Smadar, a mum, recently started volunteering every Friday night, finally realising a life-long dream alongside her 15-year-old daughter who has joined the youth volunteering programme.

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Ready for the shift with medic Bosmat, medic/driver Gilad, myself and fellow trekker Gordon

The most remarkable thing about this incredibly powerful, front line experience was the sheer calm shown by Gilad and Smadar. Whereas I was an adrenaline junkie trying to suck out every piece of drama, excitement and full of nerves, the two EMTs (emergency medical technicians) didn’t show a sign of panic, acted purposefully and with a gentle smile as if to say “everything will be ok”.

Our heroic MDA medics, most of them volunteers giving up their spare time, both within their hearts and through their actions are natural lifesavers. For me this experience was extremely humbling and grounding, to actual see, hear and feel the day-to-day of MDA’s incredible medics. They truly are heroes.

SOUND ON: 2022 MDA UK trekkers ready for their once-in-a-lifetime experience

Sirens on. We’re rushing through the Tel Aviv streets, quieter than usual being a Saturday night and the working week looming, carefully jumping the red lights. Gordon and I, the two observers from MDA UK’s trek, are told to stay behind in the ambulance whilst the Magen David Adom medics assess the scene. Putting themselves on the line is the norm.

Caring for the patient. It was Yisroel’s 76th birthday the day before – so I wish him happy birthday. He’s been hit by a car whilst crossing the street, fully responsive and chatting on his mobile phone – although sensible, or bravely, not calling his wife just yet. There’s a bit of blood on his face, mainly from his glasses smashing into him. I’m called over once he is in the neck brace to help lift him onto the stretcher. We take him to Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv and hand him over to the A&E doctors. “Hello honey, nothing to worry about but…”

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2022 MDA UK trekkers ready for their once-in-a-lifetime experience

19th October 2022

Starting up to save even more lives

As we all know, Israel is the “start-up nation”, with more new high-tech companies opening every day than anywhere else in the world. Israeli technology is everywhere – in your phone, your medicine, even your food. And soon, it may very well be at the heart of your ambulance service too.

Last month, I had the pleasure of spending time with MDA’s technical paramedics who are now trying to commercially sell it’s emergency management software around the world. We were manning a stand at the Emergency Services Shows at the NEC in Birmingham, where the world’s top providers of 999 kit gathered to show of their wares. Everything from the latest ambulances to automatic defibrillators and health apps to virtual reality fire training. MDA weren’t alone in selling this kind of software, with many privately funded for-profit enterprises showcasing their solutions alongside barista coffee and fresh scones. But remarkably, it was the humble stand of Israel’s emergency services that stood out with competing organisations actually coming over to find out more about this product of Israeli innovation.

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Uriel, Ilan and Raphael came from MDA in Israel to talk about the technology.

So what does this piece of kit – marketed as MDANET – actually do, and why does it rise above the rest?

Firstly, this end-to-end software that tracks the full process from the bystander contacting MDA, all the way to transfer at the hospital, was designed by first responders themselves. They understand the bureaucracy and on-the-ground issues that act as a barrier to providing this care. We know from discussing with other technology companies in Birmingham that they struggle integrating their software for this exact reason. Only MDANET is able to overcome this, through user-focused processes.

Most importantly, the key selling point is that it integrates all possible functions into one streamlined process. Whereas other companies can provide a solution to one aspect, such as dashcam feeds back to the dispatch centre, Magen David Adom incorporates it all. This includes:

  1. User input: Through a bespoke app, the general public are able to summon a first responder as if were an Uber or pizza. Even if they don’t have the app, they are able to communicate with the call centre via Whatsapp, Facebook messenger and other means – able to share photos and videos to provide more information.
  2. Call Management: by tracking incoming calls, the system automatically speeds up call answer times, and dispatch centre managers can oversee this process in real-time.
  3. Resource Management: A clear map, built through open data and even live traffic reports from Waze, displays the available medicycles, ambulances and even volunteer responders
  4. Patient Care: Most importantly, MDA has been using telemedicine techniques for years to provide first aid instructions to bystanders. Emergencies won’t wait for ambulances to arrive, the general public can have a role in saving lives – back up by MDA’s brilliant lifesaving technology.

For me, this experience was just a window into the power of the digital emergency health service that save the lives of all the citizens of the start-up nation. We are so proud of the web-developers, dispatchers and public information communicators. They are all lifesavers.

Can you help MDA to market this brilliant dispatch software to healthcare providers in the UK or around the world? Get in touch via [email protected]

2nd September 2022

48 Hours in Amman

“What combines this group? What do they have in common?”

“They are all interested in saving lives.” I say to our Palestinian tour guide as we sit outside the world’s most protected embassy – the Israeli Embassy in Amman, Jordan. The 2021 MDA UK trekking group had just arrived late the night before following just weeks notice that Israel had closed its borders, and the trip would only be taking them to the ‘other’ side of the Jordan River.

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Trek 2022 group visiting Petra

Jordan and Israel have been at peace since 1994, and although relations are getting warmer in the wake of the Abraham Accords, the relationship has largely been functional than friendly. Magen David Adom, the Red Cross of Israel, and the Jordanian National Red Crescent Society have been working together for decades to combat the shared threats they face. The threat of earthquakes across two fault lines, drought during hot periods, and of course terror is no stranger to either countries. Both have had joint training exercises and knowledge sharing.

The Red Crescent hospital facility in Amman is fantastic, state-of-the-art and partially funded by MASHAV and MDA UK. As guests of the society’s president, Dr Al Hadid, we were given a guided tour of the medical facilities together with skill training programmes provided to Syrian refugees that have fled to Jordan over the recent years. It was obvious that the world could learn a lot about how to support refugees, those who have left everything behind, from Jordan.

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The Trekkers visited the Red Crescent hospital in Amman, meeting medics and hearing from the President of the Jordan National Red Crescent Society

“Ma Shlomech?” we were asked, in finer Ivrit than most of us, by a Jordanian medic. It turns out that he studied to become a full paramedic at Ben Gurion university in a course delivered in partnership with MDA. The people-to-people knowledge and experience sharing is impactful in saving lives directly on the ground, and indirectly in making the region a better place to live.

Magen David Adom through its regional work as Israel’s Red Cross society, is helping to shape the new Middle East through better relations through normal people, and is improving life-saving beyond borders.

I invite you to come and see this for yourselves during the 2022 trek in November across Jordan and Israel. Discover how MDA uses its expertise to help other lifesavers, see behind the scenes of Israel’s heroes and raise money for a great cause along the way. Visit mdauk.org/trek for more.

15th August 2022

Israel’s Health Force

As we come out of Operation Breaking Dawn, it is time to reflect on those who stand in harms way to protect others. In the city of Sderot, the closest major residential area to Gaza, 120 medics were on standby ready to help those affected. During these times of crisis, regular first aid and emergency treatment is still needed by so many, a service that MDA is duty-bound to provide. It is also this mandate, out of MDA’s humanitarian values – together with a Knesset-bound obligation – that brave medics, the vast majority of them volunteers, put on their bullet-proof vests and helmets, get into their armoured ambulances and prepare to tend to those who are affected by the rocket fire.

Two sets of armour ready for MDA medics. Each with a protective helmet and bullet proof vest.

The red star of David – the magen david adom – is an internationally recognised symbol, protected by the Geneva Convention as not to be a target of war. It is crazy to think that there should be a need for so much physical protection for humanitarian health workers in our world today. This was highlighted earlier this year, as Israel’s emergency medical service provided 15 armoured ambulances to the people of Ukraine. Who else is there that could even respond to such a need?

During the operation the Minister for Health, Nitzan Horowitz, visited the MDA Sderot station to meet those on the front line of keeping Israeli citizens in good shape. Calling them the very best at what they do, it is our honour to support such an incredible organisation. In its own way, the medics of Magen David Adom, are protecting the people of Israel around the clock.

Two MDA Medics, wearing their protection, ready to begin a shift.

At a recent event in London, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu boasted about the world-leading institutions that exist to protect all the citizens of Israel – the IDF, the Mossad, the Shin Bet, and of course, Magen David Adom. Always on the front line, always ready to serve, and always there to provide care.