Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Hadassah's hospitals treat victims and terrorists the same


A first-hand account of a scene at the hospital.

Outside the Swartz Center for Emergency Medicine at Hadassah’s hospitals, TV cameramen are waiting for the blinking lights and sirens of the ambulance. One of the injured is already inside— a young man who had been stabbed by a terrorist.

The terrorist, allegedly associated with Islamic jihad, had driven his vehicle into a bus stop, running over 26-year-old Dalia Lemkus. When his minivan hit an obstruction, he jumped out and began stabbing her and others. A security guard from nearby Alon Shvut shot him. The terrorist ran away after being shot, but the guard pursued him and shot him again.

He will be coming in the second ambulance. The ambulance parks near the entrance of the CEM. Medics hurry around the back and carry a swarthy, bloodied man on a stretcher into the trauma center.

“The terrorist,” whispers a woman in the waiting room near ambulatory care. “It must be the terrorist.”

Heavily armed soldiers and police follow the stretcher. Doctors, nurses, auxiliary staff, soldiers and police crowd into the trauma room. I’m there too, watching. The scene felt eerily familiar. Prominent Trauma Surgeon Avi Rivkind, internationally recognized for handling terror treatment, will be orchestrating the care.

In a sky blue shirt, Rivkind is in charge, quietly asking questions, looking for good answers, giving orders.

The trauma unit was built in the wake of the Second Intifada, from 2000-2005, when half of the terror victims in the country were treated in Hadassah’s hospitals.

The terrorist is placed in the far left bay; the man he’d stabbed is to the right. How many times have I explained that we treat Jew and Arab, even terror victim and terrorist the same?

The terror victim needs a CAT scan. The terrorist, identified as Maher Hadi a-Hashalmoun from Hebron, might have a bullet in his heart. The imaging technicians and the cardio-thoracic surgeon are summoned. A senior orthopedic surgeon stands by. A group of physicians hover over the computer to interpret the tests. Will the terrorist need heart surgery? The hospital director phones in a request to have operating room number eight readied. Just in case.

The terror victim’s stab wounds are evaluated. One of the doctors says the first CAT scan is different from the second. They need to wait and see what develops. His family has arrived. The specialists who were supposed to be doing later-afternoon clinics ask for phone calls to be made to cancel their patients. This will take a while.

There is news of another possible stabbing and an injury from a stoning. The empty bays of the trauma center don’t need to be readied. They are always ready.

18 physicians— among them Hadassah’s most experienced— stand around the terrorist. The cardiothoracic surgeon reads the test results. No heart surgery needed. The bullet isn’t in the heart. The surgeon orders an angiogram. The terrorist is wheeled out. The specialists begin to leave.

The news reports that Dalia Lemkus, 26, died of her wounds at the site.

The TV cameras have moved to the atrium of the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Tower. It’s too cold and dark outside. Deputy Director Dr. Ashi Salmon is speaking before TV cameras. Channel 2, Channel 1, Channel 10. Patients from three other attacks are still at the hospital, he tells them.

Patients are waiting for care at the ER walk-in service. Some are wearing kefiyyas, others streimels. Some are bare-headed. They are treated the same: Arab and Jew, religious and secular, and even terror victim and terrorist. The same, the same, the same.


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