Israel readies hospitals for chemical attacks

The Israel Defense Forces Home Front Command is readying all Israeli hospitals for security threats ranging from chemical attacks to large-scale missile attacks.

The project to prepare for attacks was planned three years in advance and is not related to recent threat assessments or current threats. The training exercises prepare hospital staff to handle mass-casualty incidents, conventional missile attacks and mega-mass casualty incidents that involve 1,000 or more injuries, the Jerusalem Post reports.

"We train a lot for chemical weapons," a source with HFC said, according to the Jerusalem Post. "This is our business, and only ours. There is no room for error."

While the threat of chemical attack from neighboring Syria is quite low, the defense community is planning for contingencies to prevent and deal with such an attack.

Israel's 27 hospitals undergo intensive chemical weapons incident drills, including surprise exercises. The hospitals participate in approximately 25 emergency drills per year.

The drills involve simulated patients rushing into hospitals with notes attached explaining the scenario. Hospitals deal with an average of 200 simulated patients during the exercises and as many as 700.

The HFC created underground areas in major hospitals such as the Haifa-based Rambam hospital and the Tel Aviv-based Ichilov hospital. This gives the hospitals locations to transfer pregnancy wards and intensive care units in case of missile attacks. The HFC has also tested setting up daycare centers for children of nurses and doctors so that healthcare workers can focus on treating patients, the Jerusalem Post reports.