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Message from Israel

Larry Rich

Editor’s note: The following message is from Larry Rich at Emek Medical Center (EMC) in Haifa, Israel. Rich has been in the Vail Valley previously fundraising for the hospital. Here, he describes some of the events of the past week in Israel. Information about donating to the hospital is at the end of Rich’s letter:July 20, 2006Yesterday, the Valley of Armageddon shuddered and reverberated in fire and smoke as hostilities towards our people intensified. More death and destruction, more traumatized citizens and an ever increasing palpable anger and dismay is directed towards those who would harm us. I must share with you the following vignettes born from the same barrage of rockets that struck our immediate area (5:00 PM, July 19th):1)Isam, a highly qualified male nurse who works in our Intensive Care Unit, was resting at home in lower Nazareth when a long range rocket slammed into his next door neighbor’s home. He is the father of five children and through the imploding glass and debris falling all around him, he rushed outside looking for his 6 year old son. He saw the bloodied and disfigured remains of two small children lying among the smoking ruins and he erupted in hysteria. Sobbing uncontrollably, he struggled to get a grip on the surrealistic scene before his eyes. After several heart stopping minutes of inconceivable emotional torture, he noticed that the dead children’s clothing did not match those of his own children. The bodies were those of his neighbor’s sons, aged 9 and 3. This morning (the day after), Isam sat dazed with his family in a center room of their badly damaged, now windowless home and attempted to comprehend the magnitude of the tragedy. He’s trying to explain to his 6 year old son why he will never play again with his friend, who was his neighbor’s son. Anecdote: The day before this attack, my fiance and I were in Nazareth in the very spot where this tragedy took place.2)The mother of my son’s girlfriend was driving north along the main Afula / Nazareth highway, just passing Kibbutz Mizra, when another rocket struck just off the road. She was traveling at about 80 kmph when her rear window disintegrated from the blast and her car was peppered with shrapnel. She kept on driving as she was on her way to pick up her son from work. Try and imagine the conversation that took place between that bewildered teenaged boy and his traumatized mother as they drove home in an automobile that resembled something like out of a “Mission Impossible” movie. Miraculously, she was not injured … physically. Emotionally? Time will tell.3)Meirav, our lovely spokeswoman and mother of 11 month old Harel, was waiting at a red light while driving home from work. It was at the intersection that connects highway #65 leading from our hospital and the Afula / Nazareth highway. Above the noise of her radio and while conversing with her husband on a speaker phone, Meirav heard the shrill of the air raid sirens. The cars in front of her were slow to react and she was trapped at the interaction when the concussion of a blast violently rocked her car. Suddenly, all the cars raced through the red light and Meirav hurriedly pulled in between two buildings as she mentally calculated the safest spot relative to the next rocket’s trajectory. She leapt out of her car and raced into the multi-story apartment block’s lobby, frantically pressing all the intercom buzzers so somebody would open the door and let her in. It buzzed and she dove for what looked like the safest corner. After several more agonizing minutes, waiting for additional explosions that did not occur, Meirav walked back to her car and drove the three minutes to her home.4)Inside the hallways, offices and rooms of the Emek Medical Center, people were either working, visiting with loved ones or walking from place to place. There had already been two siren warnings that day. When the third one sounded its alarm, according to emergency protocol, everyone moved away from windows and doorways leading outside, ran towards interior corridors, braced themselves and waited. The concussion of several blasts shook the buildings, glass windows vibrated violently and people looked at one another with stares of fear and foreboding. After another couple minutes of silence, activity returned to ‘normal’ … as if a movie scene frozen in time suddenly came back to life and people carried on as before. *****There are sensitive industrial installations in our general vicinity that contain a stock of dangerous chemicals. These facilities are now within range of the Hezbollah arsenal and present a real danger to our population. In recognition of this dangerous new factor, the Hospital/IDF (Israel Defense Forces) Chemical Disaster Unit has been placed on high alert. This specialized force is comprised of 250 reserve soldiers who are trained to assist in the decontamination process if we are faced with a mass casualty chemical event. Their officer and hospital liaison has been present at the hospital for the past few days, transferring data and information between the army and our hospital. Let’s pray that this unit need not be called up.Relative to the chemical threat, EMC has just received 30 battery operated portable ventilators. A lethal result of toxic poisoning is the inability of a victim to breathe. Today, our staff of physicians and nurses are receiving instructions on how to properly operate these sensitive life saving devices. If we are faced with a mass casualty chemical event, large numbers of people’s lives will depend upon the speed and efficiency of both the army unit and our staff.*****Dream Doctors Our pediatric patients have been deeply traumatized. Their hospitalization experience has been significantly aggravated by the rocket assaults on our region. The incessant booms of the rockets exploding and the violent shaking of windows is enough to unnerve even the most seasoned veteran. Dream Doctors to the rescue! These amazing, funny, talented and intuitive human beings have the ability to change a traumatic event into a laughable experience. In addition to the daily challenges of disease and pain that they normally face, these physicians of the soul now confront Hezbollah’s rockets and insanity with their own zany antics that have children, their parents, staff and adult patients all laughing and forgetting for a moment the danger that threatens us all. Please, now more than ever … donate generously so we will be able to continue with this essential service. Four Dream Doctors cost us a total of $48,000 per year ($1,000 per month per clown). Every donation will help and you will be a full partner in helping our kids to smile and forget their immediate troubles. Click here to see how you may make a donation and a difference:http://www.clalit.org.il/haemek/Content/Content.asp?CID=106&u=195 Larry RichIsrael’s Emek Medical CenterDirector of Development & International Public RelationsAfula 18101, IsraelPhone in New York: 646-546-5970 Phone in Israel: 972-4-649 4417Mobile: 972-50-5737 641Fax: 972-4-652 2642Email: rich_l@clalit.org.ilwww.haemek.co.il


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