The officer recently discussed the IDF's efforts to provide medical care to the injured victims of this month's terror attack in Burgas
Following this month's terror attack on Israeli tourists in Burgas, Bulgaria, the IDF sent a delegation to provide medical care to the injured. The medical team, which was sent on the orders of Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, included experts from Israel's leading hospitals, specializing in surgery, anesthesia, and intensive care. Deputy Chief Medical Officer Col. Dr. David Dagan recently recounted the delegation's work, both in Israel and in Bulgaria.
"At 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday [July 18], we heard about the attack," said the Deputy Chief Medical Officer. "We started to prepare for the possibility that the Chief of Staff would order us to send a delegation. At 8:00 p.m., the order was passed from the head of the Technology and Logistics Branch, Maj. Gen. Kobi Barak, to the Chief Medical Officer, Brig. Gen. Dr. Yitzhak Kreiss. Before takeoff, a briefing was given by Chief of the Home Front Command Maj. Gen. Eyal Eizenberg and the Chief Medical Officer. At 7:00 a.m. [the next day], the planes landed in Burgas."
"We started to carry out a situation assessment for a scenario that was very new for us and different from everything that we are accustomed to doing. We tried to gather data, and all we knew was that there were dozens of injured and seven killed – nothing more than that," Col. Dr. Dagan continued. "The commander of [Airborne Rescue and Evacuation] Unit 669, which participated in the delegation, assembled 12 full staffs within an hour and a half. Under the command of Brig. Gen. (res.) Shalom Ben-Arieh of the Home Front Command, we set out in three planes carrying medical equipment and tools for treating the wounded on the ground and in the air."
"At the site, there were lightly to moderately injured people, who were happy to see soldiers coming to their aid. The Bulgarians cooperated with us fully. They did their utmost and provided the injured with excellent medical care," he said. "The Chief Medical Officer told us that our ability to act depended on our cooperation with the Bulgarians, and indeed they were excellent and desirable partners. Nonetheless, the confusion and the great suffering of the injured people searching for their relatives placed the members of the delegation in highly charged situations."
Specifically, he recounted that members of the IDF delegation had tried to convince a man injured by shrapnel to get on a plane so that he could be flown back to Israel to receive medical treatment. "That man walked around frantically among the injured in an attempt to find his wife, who had disappeared after the attack. We tried to convince him repeatedly to get on the plane with us, but he adamantly refused to do so until we found his wife and took her with us on the plane. In the end, the Rabbinate identified his wife's body, and only then did he agree to get on the plane," Col. Dr. Dagan said.
The Deputy Chief Medical Officer emphasized that all of the participants in the mission feel a sense of pride to serve in the IDF, both in regular service and in the reserves, and to carry out mission like this one on behalf of the citizens of the State of Israel. "We see a national purpose in these missions, and we are prepared to cope with any occurrence, anywhere in the world."