Guy Caspi, Magen David Adom
This week’s guest has made a career of saving lives in the land of Israel. Guy Caspi, a director and instructor for Magen David Adom (MDA), has spent more than 40 years providing emergency medical treatment to Israelis, and he joins us today to share about MDA’s work.
Guy details the unique approach that makes MDA unique in its lifesaving care. As an EMT preserving life on the front lines of the land that faces many terrorist attacks, he gives an inside picture of the plight of Israelis. Both his work and The Friends of Israel’s efforts to supply medical care are crucial for Israelis to survive and thrive in their homeland. Guy’s interview will inspire you to commit to keeping Israelis safe in the Holy Land today!
To learn more about the American Friends of Magen David Adom, visit afmda.org.
Steve Conover: Welcome to The Friends of Israel Today. I'm Steve Conover. With me is our host and teacher, Chris Katulka. Have you visited foiradio.org? After this episode ends, I invite you to visit us at foiradio.org. There we have over eight years worth of programming on our site. Again, that's foiradio.org.
Chris Katulka: Steve, today we have a special guest in the studio. Guy Caspi has joined us from Israel. He works with Magen David Adom, which is Israel's Red Cross. Guy is the chief multi-casualty instructor and director of HAZMAT exercises and operational training for Magen David Adom in Israel. Guy's going to share with us everything that Magen David Adom does and how they help in the emergency medical services for the Israeli people.
Steve Conover: We're looking forward to your interview with Guy Caspi, that's coming up. But first in the news, April 29th has officially become End Jew Hatred Day in New York City, after the council passed a resolution to reign in the reoccurring antisemitic incidents plaguing the city, the resolution was spearheaded by Jewish Republican Inna Vernikov, an outspoken opponent of antisemitism in city politics. She cited data from the Anti-Defamation League showing antisemitic crimes in the US, they're at an all-time high with regular incidents in New York City.
Chris Katulka: Well Steve, here's my take. Congrats to Inna for standing against the rise of Jew hatred, of antisemitism. But what's concerning is that two of the city council members voted no while four abstained. Why? Because some didn't agree with Israel's relationship with the Palestinians. That means that opponents to this resolution's opinions about Israel reflects on the mistreatment of the Jewish people in New York City. One has nothing to do with the other, it's just another example that anti-Zionism is antisemitism.
Chris Katulka: I am honored to have Guy Caspi from Israel and Guy serves with Magen David Adom in Israel. And I know for our listeners, that can be a mouthful to hear Magen David Adom. And they might be thinking, what is this Magen David Adom? So Guy, great to have you in the studio and maybe for our listening audience you could share what MDA, Magen David Adom does.
Guy Caspi: Thank you for having me, first of all. Well, Magen David Adom is actually the emergency medical services and the blood services for the state of Israel. The use of the emblem, the Red Shield of David, as a symbol of Jewish medical help was actually used even in World War I. But when the state of Israel was declared back in 1948, two years later, the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, declared MDA law, Magen David Adom, law, that defined the missions of this organization.
First of all is to provide pre-hospital care for whoever is in the state of Israel. And then we do first aid training. We do train our people, we train the general public, we train the Israeli Defense Forces paramedic as well.
Then we go into blood. We do most of the blood campaign for the state of Israel. That means we run about 96% to ... 96% of the entire blood demands for the state of Israel. That means that we run the blood campaign, we do the tests, we do the processing and provide the blood to the different users, mainly the hospitals in peace time, and when it comes to emergency, to the Israeli Defense Force as well.
And then we serve as the Israeli Red Cross and Red Crescent Society for the state of Israel. That means that we do whatever comes to Red Cross activities, disaster relief, relative searching. And we joined mission around the world.
Last earthquake in Turkey, some of our people were joining some mission work there. We send some people for the United States during some hurricanes, as well as other search and rescue operations like surf side incidents.
And last but not least, due to the special situation that the state of Israel is living in, as I say, in a tough neighborhood, we're an auxiliary civilian service to the Israeli Defense Force. That means we assist the Israeli Defense force when it's needed and when rockets hit the home front, and unfortunately it's happened, we are the main responding agency for civilian casualties caused by those rockets.
Chris Katulka: All right. So Guy, I want to share with our listening audience your title. I've actually built it into a question because the title is very long. And you serve as the chief multi-casualty instructor and director of HAZMAT exercises and operational training for Magen David Adom in Israel. That title makes you sound very busy, Guy. So, can you explain to me and to our listeners each component to your calling at MDA?
Guy Caspi: I'll start with the fact that don't ask me how to teach CPR. I know how to do it, I served as a paramedic, but mainly I'm dealing with what we call the operational training. That means how to respond to the different scenarios. Wartime scenarios, for example. How you work in a situation where a missile hits a populated residential building. When do you get in, how do you coordinate with the police?
When it comes to terror attack, very complicated scenarios. Suicide bombers, how we coordinate. When is the step when MDA crews and people are stepping in. And our set of mind is a little bit different from other emergency services around the world because having the goal of saving lives, that means we're working with the bond technician very soon to save people on the site. So generally this part, what we call the operational training is whatever comes to the emergency scenario on command and control, on-scene coordination, working with other emergency services. This is the main part of my job.
And then we'll go to the drills and exercise. We conduct a lot of drills and exercise along with our partners and colleagues, like the Israeli police, the Israeli Defense Force, the fire services, we do roughly around 300 drills per year. And it can be a small drill with one or two units and it can be a large scale drill with 45, 55 ambulances that simulate an airplane crash in the airport. Or recently, we conduct a large-scale, non-conventional attack on a train system.
Chris Katulka: Wow.
Guy Caspi: So, how do you deal with this? The last portion, and it's a small one, is dealing with hazardous materials. Because within our doctrine and operational procedure, we are part of the response for those scenarios as well, though our people have to know how to use their protection gear and how to respond in the hazardous material situation. So, those are mainly the three components of my title. And yes, I am busy.
Chris Katulka: You are, you sound very busy and you've been busy here in the United States traveling and speaking on behalf of Magen David Adom here in the United States. And that's very important as well because I know that Magen David Adom, the American Friends of Magen David Adom helped raise funds to make sure that you have the proper ambulances and tools to be able to accomplish the task that your team needs to do to make it possible. So, I'm thankful that you're here.
I have one more question before we take a break. You actually started with MDA in 1979 as a youth volunteer. We were talking about that earlier. And today you've made it a career. I want to know, what was it about MDA that made you want to go from being a volunteer to making this something you'd invest your life into?
Guy Caspi: An interesting issue about MDA in general that you can see in the agency, a lot of people that do the same path that I did.
Chris Katulka: Oh, really?
Guy Caspi: You come as a volunteer and we call it infected, but in the good manners, that mean you step in in the beginning, you join the ambulances and you are second hand on the unit. And then you feel how you can contribute and literally save life and make the difference. And I started, as you mentioned, as a youth volunteer. And during those periods, I gained some experience and I decided that this look nice.
Not only the practice and the sirens and the rush, but also the idea that you give and you do something for the general purpose of a better world, maybe. And after serving the army as the medical instructor, I start working and then I went to the university, did my bachelor's degree in archeology.
Chris Katulka: Did you really?
Guy Caspi: Yep.
Chris Katulka: We'll have to have you back for another archeology one. Another archeology episode.
Guy Caspi: Yeah. And I still was attracted to the field and I stayed in the agency and then I went to paramedic training and became a trainer. And then I was pulled up from the field to operation. And for the last 20 or so years, I'm there doing a very, very, very interesting job. Very interesting times because there's not a dull moment for us.
Chris Katulka: I bet, I bet. Well listen, we are speaking with Guy Caspi from Israel. He's joining us here in studio in the United States, and he serves with Magen David Adom in Israel. And so it's a joy to have him. We've got a few more questions with Guy, so we want you to stick around and hear really how important MDA is in serving Israel, especially with the enemies that surround the Jewish state. So, stick around.
Steve Conover: For more than half a century, Zvi Kalisher's stories have been one of the most popular features in Israel My Glory magazine. And now also, as dramatic readings here on the Friends of Israel Today. Chris, where can our listeners find out more about Zvi's inspirational life?
Chris Katulka: Yeah. I recommend a book called Zvi: The Miraculous Story Of Triumph Over The Holocaust, by none other than Elwood McQuaid. It is the bestselling book produced by the Friends of Israel. Many have been inspired and encouraged by this story of a Holocaust survivor in Warsaw, Poland. Separated from his parents and forced to face the trials of Hitler's Nazi regime, he triumphed against all odds and found his way to Israel and faith in the Messiah. This book will touch your life and you'll find it difficult to put down. I know I did. You can order your very own copy right now at foiradio.org.
The impact of Zvi's life and ministry in Israel, it didn't end when he went home to be with the Lord. In fact, Zvi's legacy lives on. Our Friends of Israel ministry representatives continue to share the gospel in Jerusalem, Israel, and really, all throughout the world. We also serve Holocaust survivors and their families. We provide free food, medicine and clothing and we even promote the safety and security of the state of Israel and the Jewish people everywhere. So, when you give to the Friends of Israel, your donation actually allows us to advance the gospel of our Messiah, Jesus. You can give online by visiting foiradio.org. Again, that's foiradio.org. You can click right there on our donate link. Also, be sure to let us know where you listen when you contact us.
Chris Katulka: Welcome back everybody. We're speaking with Guy Caspi from Israel. He's joining us in the studio here and he serves with Magen David Adom in Israel. And Guy, to this day, Israel has enemies surrounding its borders and enemies from within. Have you had any encounters with rockets coming from Gaza, or suicide bombers as a professional EMT in Israel?
Guy Caspi: Unfortunately, being in the service since the late 17 of the last century, I've been involved in several incidents. First of all, as a paramedic, as a responder, and for the last 23 years, as somebody from operation and as a debriefing officer. And when those things happens, we report to the scene and then we conduct a debriefing session. And I can recall unfortunately lot of incidents. And one that I remember was one of the bad terrorist attack in Tel Aviv. Happened in 2006, if I'm not wrong. It was a suicide attack in the Dolphinarium nightclub, when a suicide bomber detonate himself in front of a queue of young girls waiting to get into nightclub. I was the second ALS unit on scene and it was a bad scenario.
Moving on in years, we just had Passover. And on one of the Passover nights, terror incidents known as the Passover Massacre happened in Park Hotel in Netanya. Suicide bomber entered the dining hall when they was reading the Haggadah and blew himself up there. And I happened to be with my sisters, at my sister's residence having the Seder there. It was about five miles from Netanya. So, I never finished that Seder. And after this incident, whenever as a family we went out, we took two cars because as my wife says, "I have the ability to get home by myself."
Chris Katulka: Right, I don't want to be stuck at the Passover Seder.
Guy Caspi: Yeah. And when the rockets hits us-
Chris Katulka: You're ready.
Guy Caspi: I was there as well, in some of the places.
Chris Katulka: This leads me to my next question and you and I have been talking, the Friends of Israel does volunteer work at Kaplan Medical Center, and I've had a chance to interact with EMTs for several years that would be coming to the hospital and providing service. And you get a chance to see the Israeli culture at work when it comes to these emergency moments. I have a question for you, and I think it might lead to more conversation, but is there an Israeli approach to EMT, to emergency medical treatment, that makes Magen David Adom different from the other ways other countries do EMT as well? Is there an Israeli approach?
Guy Caspi: We follow the common protocols actually. We work according, for example, in heart condition, according to the American Heart Association protocols and according to the PHDLS protocols, there's all ... they're well known around the world.
So, when you deal with the patient or the casualties on day-to-day activities and day-to-day cases, we're following the same protocols. But when it comes to multi-casualty incidents, we do have a different approach. And mainly, it was learned during the second Antifada, the second uprise when we had a lot of suicide bombers.
And then one of the challenges was how do you get to a scene, to the casualties on a scene when something exploded in? Because safety comes first in all EMTs and all medical care doctrines. And we found yourself in a situation that we have casualties, we have an unsafe environment, and we are waiting for the bomb technician to wave the white flag, means you can get in. And then we realized that lives, people lost their lives due to this gap. Because it takes time to clear the scene.
So, we worked with other agencies and conduct our operational procedures that mainly says that even if it's an unsafe environment, we work together with the bomb technician, we work together with the police forces getting into the scene very quickly and taking out the casualties after triage them and performing lifesaving procedures and evacuate them very quickly to the hospitals. And this saves lives, actually.
Chris Katulka: You guys also have a very unique volunteer network as well that serves with MDA, that I think stands apart from a lot of the EMT services that we see around the world. When I was in Canada not long ago, we heard from a gentleman who was talking about the uniqueness of the volunteer network at Magen David Adom to help really streamline the process of getting to somebody as fast as they can if there is an emergency. And it boils down to basically your cell phone as a volunteer. Can you provide any insight into that and how that's unique in some way?
Guy Caspi: Yep. In the agency we have about 3,000 and so employees, the skeleton. And beside, we have around 32,000 volunteers and they can be youth volunteer and adults. And the entire approach, the medical approach is designed to get the help to the patient as soon as possible.
And in terms of technology, Magen David Adom is the edge of the spear and we built our own command and control system. And the idea is in the minute there is an emergency, we have the location, what we call the flag, and the system looks for the first responders among our volunteers. That can be student, it can be a clerk at the shop, it can be a lawyer in the office. And whenever he's the nearest, he will be notified by MDA app and will be on the scene in no time, starting to do CPR, or starting to deliver a baby, or just provide primary care. And this bring us to the situation that within few minutes, we have somebody from MDA touching and taking care of the patient.
Chris Katulka: Yeah, that is amazing. I heard a story once, you said a lawyer, that there was a lawyer in Jerusalem, and they heard somebody had a heart attack, his phone buzzed, a heart attack and it's only within a couple hundred yards from him. He walked over there, he was the first there to provide service until the employees could show up to handle the situation. But he was ready to go and he walked back to his office after he was done.
Guy Caspi: It's happened on a daily basis, let's put it this way. And what's more important is that the employees, as well as the managers, are willing for this to happen and this is important.
Chris Katulka: Yes, they're all active. I love that. I got one more question for you before we wrap up. I know that Friends of Israel has raised significant funds among Bible believing Christians, to purchase multiple ambulances and medic cycles as well. Guy, as an Israeli who serves with MDA, what does it mean to you to see Christians supporting Israel, supporting MDA, Magen David Adom, and do you have a word for them today?
Guy Caspi: First of all, it warms my heart and everybody within the agencies, the volunteers, the employee, the management, are thankful because at the bottom line, very few percentage of the MDA budget comes from the government. And by your help and by other agencies' help, we can do the service to the people of Israel and we can save lives in Israel. And we are very, very, very, very thankful.
Chris Katulka: Well listen, for our listeners who are out there right now, if you've been blessed by this conversation that I've had with Guy Caspi, who's joining us from Israel, who serves with Magen David Adom, and you'd like to participate in some way so that you could give ... number one, you can support Magen David Adom through the Friends of Israel, by going to our Israel Relief Fund. Or you can also go right to their website, which is afmda.org. Again, that's afmda.org and there, you can give to help support, to help save lives in Israel. And we're thankful that Guy Caspi could be with us today, to help make that all possible. Thank you, Guy.
Guy Caspi: Thank you for having me.
Steve Conover: Our thanks to Guy Caspi for being with us on today's program and thank you for joining us today. Israel My Glory in depth next week.
Chris Katulka: Yeah. One of my favorite episodes is when we get a chance to highlight our most recent issue of Israel My Glory. And that's what we're going to be doing next week. The new issue of Israel My Glory is called On The Road To Zion: A Devotional Tour Of The Holy Land. And hey, let this just be a reminder to you, we want you to be on the road to Zion with us on one of our Up To Jerusalem tours. To find out more information on how you can join the Friends of Israel on our Up To Jerusalem tour, go to foi.org/tours. Again, that's foi.org/tours.
Steve Conover: Our host and teacher is Chris Katulka. Today's program was produced by Tom Gallione, edited by Jeremy Strong, who also composed and performs our theme music. And I'm Steve Conover, executive producer. Our mailing address is FOI Radio PO Box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey, 08099. Again, that's FOI Radio PO Box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey, 08099. And I'll give you one last quick reminder to visit us at foiradio.org.
The Friends of Israel Today is a production of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. We are a worldwide evangelical ministry, proclaiming biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah, while bringing physical and spiritual comfort to the Jewish people.
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ZVI: The Miraculous Story of Triumph Over the Holocaust
This best-selling book tells an incredible story of inspiration. Separated from his parents and forced to face the trials of Hitler’s Nazi regime, Holocaust survivor Zvi Kalisher triumphed against all odds and found his way to Israel and faith in the Messiah. His life was filled with incredible moments of courage and faithfulness. It will touch your life, as you’ll find it difficult to put down!
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