Over this past weekend, Rambam Medical Center in Haifa released the IDF pilot whose F-16 jet was downed by a Syrian missile. The pilot and his co-pilot were able to eject over Israeli territory, but sustained injuries and were rushed to Rambam. Thankfully, both have fully recovered and the more seriously injured of the two was released a few days ago.
That the pilots were taken to Rambam is testimony not only to the excellent medical care they received, but also to the close relationship between the IDF and Rambam. While Israel does not have military hospitals, like the U.S., Rambam is about as close to that as possible.
Last year, over 23,000 IDF soldiers were treated at Rambam for illness, disease or injury. About 1,000 were admitted to the hospital.
In addition, many IDF physicians are trained at Rambam, both at the medical center and in the field. Nurses, paramedics, and many others in the IDF medical corps are often in continuous collaboration with Rambam to help soldiers in the field.
The close collaboration with the IDF is one of several unique partnerships that Rambam maintains with Israeli security and defense institutions. Another is with the Home Front Command, as Rambam is the primary hospital in the North for civilian and military preparedness. A similar relationship exists with police and fire department in Haifa and the region.
Rambam knows from firsthand experience what it takes to go on full defense alert. During the 2006 Lebanon war, when Rambam treated over 850 soldiers, the hospital itself was targeted for shelling. As a result, it created the world’s leading and largest underground facility, three tiers of a parking lot, the Sammy Ofer Fortified Underground Emergency Hospital. In times of emergency, the parking lot converts into a 2,000-bed facility with surgical and other fully-equipped medical units. It can withstand the most severe attacks, enabling Rambam to continue to operate and perform its critical life-saving work without interruption.
Rambam is proud of its integrated relationship with the IDF and other security branches in Israel. We hope that the underground facility never has to be used. But recent events along the Syrian and Lebanese borders are a reminder that saving the lives of Israel’s brave soldiers is an essential responsibility of Rambam.
As the largest trauma care center in the country, Rambam plays a vital and vigilant role for soldiers as well as the entire population of Israel’s north.