Last week, Israel’s emergency forces and the IDF trained for an earthquake scenario that will leave thousands of injured civilians and hundreds of destroyed homes
Last week, the wide scale training exercise that simulated a disastrous earthquake and required the cooperation of every Israeli emergency force, came to an end. The IAF’s “Yanshuf” (Black Hawk) transport helicopter squadrons (the “Rolling Sword” and “Desert Birds”) also participated in the week long exercise that was led by the IDF’s Home Front Command.
The helicopters were responsible for transporting Home Front Command troops, transporting supplies to the relevant areas and evacuation of injured individuals to hospitals. The Israeli Police also operated various aircraft such as a patrol helicopters and firefighting aircraft.
“The eyes in the sky when the ground shakes”
“The IAF’s advantage gives it a significant role in an extreme earthquake scenario”, explained Maj. Yoav, Head of the Search and Rescue Section of the Air Support Department. “The aircraft will have an important role in the reflection of the aerial image for the various forces. The UAV and Surveillance Division will perform aerial photography and gather intelligence, abilities exclusive to an aerial force. The air force is the eyes in the sky when the ground shakes”.
In such a disaster, it becomes exceedingly difficult to maneuver on the ground. Buildings are destroyed, roads are blocked, hospitals are crowded with injured civilians and electricity poles might fall and cause fires. This is where transport helicopters come in. “One of our main missions is evacuation of injured civilians. The assistance of transport aircraft in such a situation allows the forces to reach blocked areas in relatively short times, when dealing with human life, every minute become critical”, added Maj. Yoav. “Sometimes there is no room in hospitals for the injured individual. In such a situation, we will fly them to a different hospital, even if it’s in the other side of the country”.
Photography: IDF Spokesperson
Before performing missions from the air, there are many necessary preparations that the IAF conducts in order to provide quality air support, most of which are performed on the ground. The IAF’s Cooperation Unit and Teleprocessing Battalion established an Aerial Command Room beside all of the other command rooms in the field. “From the command room, I communicate with every element relevant to aerial activity”, explained Maj. Tal, a Department Head in the Cooperation Unit and aircrew member from the “Elephants” Squadron. “The cooperation unit’s personnel are the IAF’s representatives in the field. Every scenario that requires IAF assistance outside of the air force is managed by the Participation Department, but the ones in the field who connect between all of the relevant elements are us”.