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Mount Meron: Paramedic who reported disaster recalls how it began

CM 02/05/2021 1

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Magen David Adom (MDA) paramedic Omri Gorga made the initial call reporting the disaster on Mount Meron and alerting the watch officer who was on call. On Sunday morning, he told 103 FM about the incident and recalled those first horrible moments.Some 45 people were killed on Thursday night after a stampede broke out as massive crowds gathered at the Mount Meron religious bonfire-lighting ceremony for the holiday of Lag Ba’omer,”Every paramedic has an aggressive side for when you need to manage a complex event,” said Gorga. “What you can’t hear in the recording [of the situation report] is the loud music, the mob that was crushing us. I had to be assertive and get the message across that there is an abnormal event going on here.”The specific conversation [in the recording] is the first; I am simultaneously breaking it on the MDA internal network, transmitting on the radio and telephone in tandem. Everything is happening as I try to get a clear understanding of the situation, if we are talking about a collapse, a crush incident, why there are children undergoing CPR,” Gorga said.”It took me a minute or two from the moment I arrived at the scene, and realized that there was CPR being done on four people, to understand that I have 20 more unconscious people in the upper section of area 40. I got there to help a teammate and was horrified to find that it was with CPR on a 12-year-old,” he said.”When I got there, there were children who were having CPR done on them. The event happened when I got there, I was witness to the first moments of the incident,” Gorga added.When asked how you decide who to treat first in an event with so many casualties, Gorga said that it was an incredibly difficult decision. “Whoever is showing signs of life, we fight for their lives. If someone is not showing signs of life, we need to invest our strength in other patients who will survive,” he lamented.

“In the first moments, I was there – and within minutes, there was an amazing gathering of staff,” Gorga said. “In my wildest dreams I didn’t think that I could gather that much manpower in a matter of seconds in such a crowded place. Thousands of people are running you over and my team had to fight their way to me. I was lifting a blue glove, so they could see me, and being swallowed in the crowd, and they saw my glowing vest and came to me for instructions. I passed the message along that we were talking about an incident with many people injured. We split up the area into sections and started working.”When asked what his hardest moment was, Gorga said that two stood out. “I was knocked to the ground and I found myself lying next to a 12-year-old boy who was killed. I tried to get up and the crowd was just running me over and I was lying next to him.”The second moment was when I was talking to my friend Maor, a volunteer paramedic, he wanted to do CPR on a child and I told him ‘I need you to save people that can be saved.’ He told me ‘it’s a child I can’t’ and I told him ‘cut [contact] – we have to save people we can save.'”It is hard to stop treating children,” he said. “The dilemma is when to let go; when to say I need to save someone else.”When asked how he was able to separate his emotions at seeing the horrifying incident and act professionally, Gorga said it is difficult, but the whole staff knows how to continue to work and support each other even in situations such as those.”MDA knows how to give professional help to those who need it immediately and in the long term,” he said. “This is not the first event and I believe it won’t be the last. Every bad accident is a disaster as far as we are concerned.”

Jerusalem Post Staff and Tzvi Joffre contributed to this report.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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