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Telfed - Lecture on Emergency measures

Telfed Staff and members of the community.

On 4th January 2017, Australian Olah and emergency expert Wavey Forrest from the Home Front Command (HFC) was invited to present a lecture for the community on precautionary measures to take in the event of an Earthquake or Rocket Fire. 

According to experts, a destructive earthquake takes place in Israel approximately once every 80 years, causing serious casualties and damage. As the last one was in 1927, Telfed felt it important to ensure the community have access to useful information in the case of an emergency. As rightfully pointed out by Wavey, “it is crucial to know what needs to be done in emergency situations. Not only will it save lives, but knowing what needs to be done helps to prevent reckless reactions in times of stress.

The training session was divided into two distinctive parts: Emergency preparedness in case of Rocket and Missile fire and Emergency preparedness in case of an Earthquake.

1.Rocket and Missile Fire Emergency Response:

In 1992, The Home Front Command created an emergency map for different regions in Israel. This is a resource which indicates how long citizens have to reach protected areas in the case of an emergency, according to their city of residence. (see picture below)

Protection zones are named after the geographic regions in the country. The alarm duration lets you know the maximum time required to enter a protected space.  Sirens in affected areas will be activated not only through the local municipality network, but also on TV and through the Home Front Command App. Once the alert is sounded, it is of the outmost importance that you enter the protected space (or safe room) within the allocated period of time.  

The two main aspects of rocket fire to be aware of are the shockwave and shrapnel caused by explosions.

Residential buildings built in the last 20 years have either mamaks — merhav mugan komati — safe rooms for each floor, or mamads built in each apartment, usually one on top of the other, creating a core of safe rooms in the building. In some older buildings, owners have created fortified rooms, reinforcing a standard room with 12 centimeters of concrete and adding a specialized steel door and window and a reinforced ceiling. Another, cheaper, option that can be built according to government code is a steel cage in an existing room, covered by another layer of cement. And for those lacking a safe room or bomb shelter, there’s always the stairwell, usually cast in concrete and surrounded by pillars that keep the building standing, making it the safest place in the building.

By definition, a safe room (also called a mamad) is the preferred location to seek shelter. 'Mamads' are reinforced with 30cm thick concrete walls and steel doors/windows.  (All doors and windows of the safe room should be closed for the duration of the alert).  Following that, the next best option is in a reinforced basement (miklat) either in your residential building, local park or public area. A central stairwell at the core of the building can also provide adequate protection. In this case, avoid the first and last two floors of the building (e.g if your building has 7 floors, do not got to the stairwell of the 1st, 6th or 7th floors), as missiles can penetrate up to two floors from the point of impact. The final option for secured shelter (if none of the previous options mentioned are readily available) is to seek a protected interior room inside your apartment or house (with minimum windows and external walls and not including bathrooms, showers, toilets and kitchens which are more susceptible to shrapnel complications). It is advisable to ensure that you have with you some form of communication device, in order to receive updates on the situation. Do not enter elevators.

Should you be outdoors when the siren occurs, in an area with buildings, go inside one of these buildings or in to a nearby shelter. In an open area, lie on the ground and cover your head with your arms (to protect your brain and spine), whilst lying on your stomach (to protect your vital organs).  Legs should be crossed.

Should you be driving, stop your vehicle as soon as you hear the siren, step outside and enter the nearest building or shelter. If none are to be found, you should proceed as stipulated above and lie on the ground covering your head with your arms.

1.Earthquake Emergency Response:

Israel is sitting on three different tectonic plates (Arabian, African and Euro/Asian) and experts largely agree that it is only a matter of time before the country experiences another significant earthquake.

Unlike the recommendations in case of rocket and missile fire, the safest location in case of an earthquake is an open space.

When indoors, your first priority should be to leave the building quickly and go to an open area, away from electrical poles and trees. If you have no option to go outside, enter the safe room and leave windows and doors open to ensure safe passage of the rescue teams and an air channel. Alternatively, you can go to a stairwell whilst trying to exit the building. As a last resort, take cover under heavy and sturdy furniture (such as a table, close to the leg) or sit on the floor against an inner wall.

Do not use the elevator, stand under a doorstep, enter an underground shelter and, if possible, disconnect all the electricity plugs and turn off the gas.  As soon as the earthquakes stops, go outside in order to be protected against possible after shocks.  Do not light fires or use electrical appliances until a trained engineer has declared the area safe.

If you are outside at the time of the earthquake, keep away from any structures. At the beach, even though the chances of a tsunami in Israel are very slim, it is advisable to ensure a distance of at least a kilometre from the beach front.

In your vehicle, switch off the engine, stay inside and do not approach bridges and interchanges.

For additional details in case of emergency and all the important contact numbers, make sure to visit our “Emergency Page” (link here).

Should you wish to receive similar training for a group of interested individuals by emergency expert Wavey Forrest, please contact Telfed's Head of Volunteerism Dana Ben Chail: volunteers@telfed.org.il

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