By Aryeh Savir
Tazpit News Agency
After spending two weeks in the areas devastated by typhoon Haiyan and treating over 1,000 patients, the 15 member Israeli F.I.R.S.T (Fast Israeli Rescue and Saving Teams) civilian rescue team returned to Israel from the Philippines.
After establishing a field hospital, the team operated a mobile medical care unit, moving from one location to the next, at times by plane or boat, providing a wide range of medical treatments, sometimes in collaboration with other international teams or local rescue and medical units, serving as regional coordinators to the international rescue efforts in some cases.
In many instances they had to persuade the locals to approach them and receive treatment, as the locals were sure they would have to pay for the treatment. The rescue team was funded by IsraAID, an Israeli-based humanitarian aid agency that responds to emergency crises and engages in international development around the world. They further provided four tons of much required medications, provisions and equipment.
On their last day the team was able to locate, rescue and treat a 90 years old woman who was wounded by a falling coconut tree. She was treated by Dr. Daniel Grupel, a doctor with the Arad area civilian rescue unit.
When they first arrived they were overwhelmed by the destruction, and were even overrun by a crowd of looters who stole the provisions they had and stripped parts off the truck they were driving. Nittai Reich, a team member, told of what he encountered: “Everywhere we went the locals were begging for food; we witnessed waiting lines for food that extended for many long meters. We gave what we could, as we couldn’t stand their hungry eyes, but it really felt like a drop in the sea; as we gave a bottle to one child there were many looking on, and we had no more to give them. It was heart breaking.”