Israeli and American teams train together. (Courtesy ZAKA) (Courtesy ZAKA)
ZAKA

ZAKA volunteers from Israel, USA, Mexico, and South Africa emphasized collaboration when they participated in the US National Guard multi-national emergency drill. 

ZAKA International Rescue Unit volunteers from Israel, USA, Mexico, and South Africa participated in this year’s US National Guard multi-national emergency drill in Indiana.

The drill simulated a variety of different disaster scenarios and focused on international collaboration in dealing with mass destruction events.

This year, as in previous years, ZAKA volunteers were invited to take part together with the IDF Home Front Command, alongside US Marine Corps Special Forces.

These exercises are conducted primarily with the objective of sharing techniques and professional knowledge, and creating a better work dynamic between American and Israeli forces.

In the event of a massive missile attack on Israel or a destructive earthquake, the Israeli Home Front Command will be unable to cope on its own, and the American Military SAR units will be called in to assist with rescue efforts. The training is conducted with these potential events in mind.

Facing Extreme Earthquake Scenarios

ZAKA International Rescue Unit Chief Officer Mati Goldstein explained that this year the drill relates to “an extreme earthquake scenario, including a hotel collapse.”

“We are practicing entering the site and working with the professional emergency forces, following the first response and initial handling of the disaster by the local municipality, civilians and emergency forces,” he said.

Goldstein added that “this is the first time ZAKA is practicing its operational capabilities as an international organization and not just as a rescue force from Israel. We have brought volunteers from special ZAKA units in Israel, Mexico, and South Africa, as well as from the USA.”

Within the framework of the drill, ZAKA connected with the Israeli company Water Gen which has developed unique technology that extracts water from the air. The objective: instead of dealing with the logistics related to finding and bringing water to a disaster scene, this innovative technology can be used by emergency forces at the scene to immediately provide water to the injured and those working on-scene.

ZAKA (the Hebrew acronym for Disaster Victim Identification), established in 1995, is an Israeli non-governmental lifesaving, rescue and recovery unit, a volunteer-based organization with about 1,500 members.

ZAKA has an international division which cooperates with law enforcement, military, and emergency services across the globe. They participated in rescue missions after the tsunami in Thailand, the Columbia shuttle crash, Hurricane Katrina, and many other such disasters. ZAKA specializes in disaster victim identification.

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel

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