It’s the first official designation of its kind to be awarded. After a year-long process, spending hundreds of hours poring over manuals, along with demonstrations and exercises to prove an unmatched capability, the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) Medical Corps was awarded the first “Type 3” designation in the world. As stated in a Times of Israel article, the United Nations’ World Health Organization (WHO) had been in talks with the IDF since January of 2016 to determine if the medical team and field hospital met the “Type 3” designation requirements, a status no medical team or field hospital had ever been awarded. In a ceremony held last week, the Israeli field hospital was described as “the number one in the world”. Israel is now the only country to receive this top level achievement and worldwide recognition.
Besides the bragging rights of having “the number one medical team and field hospital in the world”, what does the Type 3 designation mean?
For starters, in the wake of a sudden onset disaster (SOD) – natural or man-made, the Type 3 designation ensures the Israeli team will continue to be the first allowed on the scene, as the world’s leader, to provide emergency medicine and services when and where needed.
In 2013, the United Nations’ WHO created a classification system to rank foreign medical teams (FMTs) into three groups: Type 1, Type 2, and Type 3. In short summary, the different types designate the medical capability and the number of patients that can be treated.
- Type 1 is comprised of a medical team offering first aid and urgent emergency care on an outpatient basis, meaning the victims of disasters do not remain in the hospital facility for extended periods of time.
- Type 2 builds upon the Type 1 capability by offering at least 20 beds for inpatients and the ability to perform 7 to 15 surgeries per day.
- Type 3 requires twice the capacity of Type 2, with 40 inpatient beds and two operating rooms capable of performing 15 to 30 surgeries per day along with other services, including rehabilitation.
For Type 2 and Type 3 designations, there are additional considerations for specialized care including burn units, dialysis, obstetrics and gynecology, and reconstructive plastic surgery.
The IDF’s field hospital is “not just some medics and doctors spread out in the field”; it is a “national treasure” that has the capabilities of an advanced, permanent hospital but can be setup almost anywhere in under 12 hours, stated its commander, Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Ofer Merin. IDF’s Medical Corps is the 17th foreign medical team to receive the classification by the WHO, Merin told the Times of Israel. There are currently no other Type 3 classifications, or others in the process of being verified, stated Dr. Ian Norton, the lead author of the classification system and Head of the WHO delegation.
Additionally, not only is Israel the only Type 3 team in the world, they are also the only one with a military component recognized by the WHO. “Only a handful in the world could even think of” doing so in the future, said Norton.
And as if receiving the Type 3 classification wasn’t enough, not to be outdone, the IDF’s field hospital, comprised of 30 medical shelter systems by Alaska Structures, renowned for their rugged durability, scalability, and ability to be relocated as needed, technically is a “Type 3 plus” system, exclaimed Merin. With 86 inpatient beds, four operating rooms, and ability to carry out plastic surgery and OB/GYN care, Israel’s field hospital far surpasses the Type 3 requirements.
Members of the IDF Medical Corps will receive official WHO patches with the new designation and be honored at a formal ceremony in Hong Kong at the end of the month. The former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman stated, helping other countries in need is “the most effective kind of diplomacy.”
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