Israel deploys new ‘isolation’ ambulance to fight coronavirus

Magen David Adom reveals new ambulance that isolates and protects drivers transporting patients infected with the highly contagious coronavirus.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Israel’s Magen David Adom national ambulance service revealed Sunday a new ambulance that hermetically seals the driver from being exposed to patients infected with the coronavirus.

Fifty ambulances around the country have been modified and deployed and another 70 will be equipped in the coming days, MDA spokesman Zaki Heller said.

The retrofitting of the ambulances to separate between the driver’s compartment and the rear of the ambulance was carried out in collaboration with the Israel Defense Forces’s Unit 81, the special IDF intelligence division tasked with providing the latest in technology to the military.

The ambulance is designed to transport only coronavirus patients who are not in serious condition but require hospitalization and transfer to an isolation ward. The driver remains isolated from the patients, but Heller says the vehicles are not equipped to provide medical treatment during the transfer.

With the driver’s compartment cut off by an insulated and sealed floor-to-ceiling metal wall, the medical staff located in the back of the ambulance with the patient have an intercom to communicate with the person behind the wheel.

mda coronavirus test center2

Technician from the Magen David Adom EMS organization tests a driver for the coronavirus at a new drive-thru test center in Tel Aviv, one of four being set up across the country to battle the pandemic. (MDA spokesman)

“In these difficult days, when medical staff are working days and nights to help patients and care for corona patients, we must do everything we can to provide safeguards and isolation to the crews, to prevent infection and their downtime that would prevent them from providing others with care,” said Eli Bin, the organization’s CEO.

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Magen David Adom staff have been answering up to 100,000 calls a day from Israelis who dial 101, the local equivalent of 911. Officials fear tens of thousands of Israelis may become infected and the MDA will be carrying the brunt of the burden in transporting those needing hospitalization.

MDA also set up and operates four drive-through coronavirus test centers in Israel’s largest cities. This allows people who have confirmed symptoms to drive to a center and stay in their car as they get swabbed by a medical technician wearing protective gear, then drive back home to isolate themselves without exposing anybody else.