IDF pilot program: Nurses to join doctors behind enemy lines

Israel’s military will be starting a pilot program in October which would see nurses join doctors and paramedics providing medical care behind enemy lines.

The program, funded by the IDF and the Health Ministry, will have nurses study for three years before they are integrated into front-line battalions and cross behind enemy lines, if necessary.

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With this program, said a senior officer in the IDF Technology and Logistics Division, doctors will be able to focus on life-saving tasks instead of those that can be done by nurses, such as monitoring vital signs, starting intravenous lines and dressing wounds.

“This program has very big potential,” said a senior IDF officer in the IDF Technology and Logistics Division, explaining that the military hopes to see about 100 nurses per draft.

Like the Israeli healthcare system, the IDF is. A 2017 report by military ombudsman Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yitzhak Brick found that one doctor treats approximately 1,200 soldiers, making soldiers wait weeks or even months before they are able to see a medical professional.

The IDF military’s technology and logistics branch is also improving medical procedures and devices in order to minimize the number of preventable deaths among soldiers during wartime.

According to the senior officer, 83% of soldiers die within an hour of being wounded due to preventable blood loss and the IDF is therefore trying to improve the medical evacuation procedure of injured soldiers during war.

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Within a new framework developed by the IDF, each battalion will be equipped with two armored combat vehicles which will be used to evacuate the injured.  According to the senior officer, the decision to use vehicles instead of helicopters was due in part to the increased aerial threat posed by the enemy.

In addition to the doctors and paramedics who are with soldiers behind enemy lines on the squad and battalion level, the military will have a new company responsible for the evacuation of the wounded who would be transferred back into Israeli territory where they would receive intensive medical care before being evacuated for further treatment.

The IDF has also introduced advanced and expensive equipment, such as providing every combat soldier with combat application tourniquets (CAT) which cost over 2,000 NIS each. The IDF also provided doctors dry plasma which can be turned into liquid blood with the addition of water for emergency transfusions on the battlefield. IDF introduces new technology to treat soldiers in the field, August 27, 2018 (IDF Spokesperson)

Another new device being tested by the IDF is a “smart sticker” which can be attached to an injured soldier and provide doctors with all relevant information regarding the patient’s condition.

The military has also began testing a drone which can carry 40-50 kilograms of medical equipment or medicine to troops behind enemy lines without risking more troops.

While the drone, which the army only has one of, is not yet operational, “if there was an operation tomorrow I would use it,” the senior officer said.

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