Professionalism and pride – the nurses who lead emergency response in Israel

Ministry of Health Israel

Israel's health-care system benefits from teams of advanced professional nurses dedicated to managing the treatment of the injured, both in routine and emergency mass casualty situations. Nurses play an important leadership role in the multidisciplinary teams that implement hospitals’ guidelines for emergency response.

These nurses are trained in advanced intensive care and emergency medicine, teamwork, decision-making and how to perform optimally in complex situations. In emergency situations, nurses fulfil many responsibilities, such as practicing first-aid skills to reduce stress, debriefing patients and staff, and keeping the hospital operational under fire and in extreme situations. Over the years, nursing staff in Israel have been involved in promoting quality improvement for the care of trauma patients. Valuable lessons are learned by monitoring the performance of staff in the treatment of both single injured patients and in multicasualty events. Throughout the course of treatment, nurses are required to assess the condition of the injured and to create a treatment plan that expands from injury to rehabilitation.

Ensuring the highest quality rapid response takes preparation, including regular drills and training. Gila Hyams is a trauma coordinator nurse in the largest trauma centre in the north of Israel. Here, she narrates a day in her life working as a nurse on emergency response.

A day in the life a trauma nurse

“A large mass casualty drill is scheduled for today. Nurses are responsible for the drill's preparations, the training and managing the multidisciplinary teams. However, a few minutes before the drill begins, we receive a notification of the arrival of 3 severe trauma patients from the battle zone in Syria. A father and 2 sons arrive, suffering from shrapnel wounds and amputations.

Some of the nurses take care of the 3-year-old boy whose father has been transferred to intensive care. The nursing staff give the child initial treatment and stabilize him, communicating with him in Arabic. The child is then transferred to the paediatric surgery department. The team struggles to save his brother's life.

We move on to the drill. The emergency routine is well practiced and the nurses deal with the situation using their knowledge and experience of the treatment of complex trauma patients. Nursing staff are deployed throughout the hospital and receive final instructions. Within a few minutes, dozens of people playing the part of injured patients arrive.

Once the drill is over, I return to paediatric surgery to find the 3-year-old boy. He doesn’t have his family with him but he is surrounded by professional caregivers who give him big warm hugs and a lot of hope.

Emergency nursing in Israel is full of challenges, professionalism and pride.”