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IAF Doctor Awarded Medal Release date 29.11.2018
Maj. Dr. D', the Commander of SAR (Search-and-Rescue) Unit 669's Medical Company, was awarded a merit badge by the Society for Medicine & Law in Israel. He told the IAF Site about his work across the globe
Carmel Lahad & Illy Pe'ery

The Society for Medicine & Law in Israel's Doctoral Merit Badge was awarded yesterday (Wednesday) to Maj. Dr. D', the Commander of SAR (Search-and-Rescue) Unit 669's Medical Company. Maj. Dr. D' is the first military service member to be awarded with the merit badge, which is awarded for humaneness, extraordinary caring and community service. "Dr. D' dedicated his life and work to military service", the prize committee reasoned. "The recommendations he received emphasized his sensitivity and devotion to treatment of any casualty, no matter his origin or nationality".

Maj. Dr. D' and Lt. Col. A', the Commander of SAR Unit 669 | Photography: Alexandra Aksyutich

An Integral Part
Maj. Dr. D' was born in the Soviet Union, grew up in Be'er Sheba, studied Medicine at the Israel Institute of Technology – after an internship at the Soroka Medical Center, he was assigned to a battalion in the IDF Paratroopers Brigade and acted as the brigade medic for a year and a half. He then served for three years in Shayetet 13 – in his third year, he served as the unit's Medical Company Commander. Afterwards, he interned for three years in Internal Medicine at the Rambam Hospital before returning to his military service as the Commander of SAR Unit 669's Medical Company. During his service, he took part in an IDF delegation to assist with the earthquake in Nepal.

Archive Photo

"A significant challenge in my routine work is combining operational and medical activity", described Maj. Dr. D'. "Operationality was an inseparable part of routine activity in the units I served in. Alongside treating combatants, planning is also an important aspect: I am responsible for dozens of SAR Unit 669 doctors and paramedics, most of them in reserve service. A large part of my job is related to force buildup, and mixing it with the treatment of casualties is critical".

Joining operational activity is an integral part of the elite unit doctors' work, and each doctor and paramedic is an integral part of the squad in the field. "A doctor and a paramedic join every operation. They are paired with the squad throughout the entire duration of the operational activity", said Maj. Dr. D'. "This is why I underwent a long training in the unit as a doctor – you have to live up to the force's standards and conditions".

Photography: Alexandra Aksyutich

Israeli Medicine in Uganda
Maj. Dr. D' was awarded the merit badge not just for his military work, but for his civilian work as well – leading a medical development program named "Israeli Medicine on the Equator". The program was established in 2005 and began sending Israeli doctors to various hospitals in Uganda for several weeks. 25 delegations set out over the past five years, which included 50 doctors and nurses who provided treatment to over 12,000 people, 5,000 of them being children.

Maj. Dr. D' treating children in Uganda | Photo courtesy of the interviewee

"It was an incredibly significant cultural experience. When living in Israel you're in your own world, used to a specific way of thinking", described Maj. Dr. D'. "Uganda is like a whole new world: we were the only non-natives in the city, working in hospitals with just several dozen beds, three doctors and no access to water or electricity. On one hand, most problems can be solved even with scarce resources and knowledge; on the other hand, whatever seems trivial in Israel becomes complex in Uganda as a result of that same scarcity. Students participating in the program experience an entirely different culture and workspace – through this, we set the foundations for a future generation of doctors who will break new grounds in the field of volunteering".

Photography: Alexandra Aksyutich

"It's valuable that a military man was awarded with the merit badge, mainly because it shows that there are high-quality doctors in the military who care a lot and work hard. As a doctor in elite units I live with the combatants I treat, a situation which doesn't occur in civilian medicine and leads the doctors to work much harder. There's always room for improvement, but it needs to be understood that dozens of doctors put all of their energy into treating the IDF's soldiers and combatants".