IDF exercise simulates Earthquake in Israel

The Ministry of the Home Front Defense has initiated a large exercise meant to prepare the authorities and Israelis for the event of a natural disaster.

I’m standing at the site of the exercise, where the IDF is simulating a military response to civilians in an urban setting emergency.

Colonel Gili Shenhar, IDF Home Front Command:

“In Israel the last huge earthquake was in 1927, so you have to understand that’s almost 100 year ago. And every 100 years approximately we might have a huge earthquake in this area. Therefore, we understand that we have to prepare the State of Israel. During this exercise we are drilling a lot of events that will happen; a lot of buildings that collapse, many people who were injured and killed, a lot of damage to infrastructure like electricity, like communications. We have to prepare the country; we have to work in synergy with all the emergency organizations, with all the local authorities; the police, the fire department, the EMS, all the 250 local authorities in Israel, the population of Israel. This exercise starts from the level of the cabinet, the ministries and in the level of the population all the country is drilling together in order to overcome this unique situation.”

This “Turning Point 6” exercise took place all over the country and included School children, civil servants and others who participated, as radio and TV channels practiced broadcasting earthquake alerts. The Home Front Command continues to train throughout the week.

Sam Cohen, Emergency Preparedness Instructor:

“We’re looking at a site of a structure that collapsed, we practice evacuating people, working with the search and rescue equipment. One of the things that we do if there are people stuck under the rubble, we have to get them out and we have to send them to hospitals as fast as possible, so one of the things we do is after we practice removing the rubble we practice moving people from the site to the ambulances that are waiting.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived to the site of the exercise accompanied by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and the Minister of the Home Front Defense Avi Dichter. The ministers were briefed about the situation and observed the soldiers in action.

Colonel Gili Shenhar, IDF Home Front Command:

“For many months they were preparing for this exercise so it’s very important that our Prime Minister is over here and taking care with us to overcome this situation.”

While Israel is fairly used to exercises and drills where security threats are concerned, preparing for an earthquake is a first, and there are differences in the way each situation is handled. For instance, when Israelis are under missile attacks, they are normally instructed to go inside buildings and closed shelters, whereas in the event of an earthquake, citizens must exit closed spaces and go into the outdoors. This exercise is meant to instruct them how to behave in such a situation as well as train the search and rescue teams.

Sam Cohen, Emergency Preparedness Instructor:

“The parameters for success are saving lives. We’re looking at a lot of people in a short amount of time. Speed, efficiency, accuracy in searching under the building. We don’t want to just, you know, dig out the whole building. We want to know where people are, that’s when the job also that people that find out where, where the best places to look for people who may be stuck under the building. Knowing what to do beforehand can save lives.”

Sivan Raviv, JN1, Israel


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