By Aryeh Savir
Tazpit News Agency
As Typhoon Haiyan continues to plow through Asia, leaving in its wake massive destruction and scores of wounded and dead two Israeli rescues have taken off late last night for the Philippines. The preliminary teams have been tasked with assessing the situation on the ground and deciding what are the necessities in preparation for the coming of much larger rescue teams.
The first team, commissioned by Minister of Defense Moshe Ya’alon and IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, is comprised of members of the IDF’s Search and Rescue unit, the medical Corpse and representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The second team is headed by F.I.R.S.T (Fast Israeli Rescue and Saving Teams), a voluntary civilian organization which specializes in search and rescue missions. F.I.R.S.T’s spokesman told Tazpit News Agency that the six member team is in the air on its way to Manila, where it is to meet up with Philippine military officials who will route them to the area they are needed. The team is comprised of members of Israel’s civilian rescue teams from around the country, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Tsafrir Shifman. The well experienced organization can provide Search and Rescue (SAR) support as well as medical services.
Chairman of F.I.R.S.T, Brigadier General (Ret.) Avi Bachar, stated that their team members are well experienced, working in Israel and saving lives on a daily basis. The teams are ready to ship out and provide support to those in need, as it has done over the past twenty years in eleven countries across the world.
Israeli Rescue missions have been present at all natural disasters over the past decades, including the Earthquake in Japan in 2011, the Haiti disaster in 2010 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012. They have vast knowledge and experience in contending with such complex situations, by establishing field hospital, providing SAR personnel and offering needed provisions and medical supplies.