Forty ZAKA commanders from the US, France, Guatemala, Africa and Zimbabwe trained in IDF facilities to learn Israeli life-saving techniques.

By: United with Israel Staff

The ZAKA Search and Rescue volunteer organization and the IDF Home Front Command last week completed a training course for 40 ZAKA commanders from the United States (Miami, NYC, New Jersey and Washington), France, Guatemala, Africa and Zimbabwe.

The course was conducted at specialized sites in Israel. All the ZAKA commanders have had previous experience in rescue missions, and most are paramedics or doctors.

The intensive training simulated rescue training, with a focus on natural disasters, building collapses and other mass casualty incidents. Emphasis was put on rescue and recovery techniques, conduct for professional rescuers in a variety of disaster scenarios and earthquakes, emergency rescue medicine and population intelligence.

The volunteer-based ZAKA (the Hebrew acronym for Disaster Victim Identification), established in 1995, is an Israeli non-governmental lifesaving, rescue and recovery organization with branches in several countries around the world.

ZAKA Chairman Yehuda Meshi-Zahav stated that “the IDF Home Front Command training ZAKA volunteers as rescuers is yet another expression of the long-standing and welcome tradition of professional cooperation between the Home Front Command and ZAKA, in providing humanitarian assistance at mass casualty incidents in Israel and around the world.”

Innovative Training

ZAKA International Rescue Unit Chief Operating Officer Mati Goldstein thanked the volunteers, many of whom traveled thousands of miles to participate in the course.

“This is the first time that ZAKA volunteers from around the world have come to Israel for advanced training in search and rescue, so that they can use this knowledge back home,” he stated. “This type of training is very important – we pray that we will only meet to take part in drills like these and not in a real disaster.”

ZAKA, recognized by the United Nations as an international humanitarian volunteer organization, has decades of experience in search, rescue and recovery missions at mass casualty incidents around the world.

In its constant quest to improve efficiency and minimize emergency response time at global incidents, the ZAKA International Rescue Unit has trained nearly 1,000 volunteers in 48 units around the world. These volunteers from Jewish and other communities, including representatives from local emergency services, are trained and equipped to serve as first responders in their home countries, offering fast, professional response in times of crisis and in routine emergency situations.

Only a few months ago, the ZAKA Guatemala unit members implemented their training, helping the local emergency forces locate, rescue and recover survivors and victims of the devastating volcanic eruption in June, which killed scores and displaced thousands.

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