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Emergency Response Group Program-ERG IV

by Phyllis Shaikun

For the past nine years, the 700-bed Western Galilee Hospital in Louisville’s Partnership with Israel region in Nahariya, has offered a superb five-day ERG (Emergency Response Group) training program for American medical professionals, hospital administrators and emergency managers on how to handle mass casualty situations. According to those who have attended, the course provides an excellent understanding of how the WGH deals with and prepares for emergencies, and also helps participants better understand Israel and its medical care system.”

Save the date! The 10th ERG training at the WGH has been set for October 29-November 4, 2010. Past participants have called the session “superb,” a “fantastic conference and a great job.”

The ERG actually began as a response to the tragedies of September 11, 2001 and the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. Americans felt the need to prepare our hospitals and healthcare facilities to cope with such incidents and realized no one was more experienced in the field than the Israelis.

Dr. Philip Rosenbloom currently heads the coalition’s ERG effort. He explains there are two parts to the ERG program. Taking the course is obviously foremost, but he feels that developing personal relationships with the other participants and with the WGH’s professional staff is equally important. “They do a good job with both,” he noted.

In a recent article about the ERG in the Jerusalem Post, Dr. Edward Goodman, medical director of infection prevention and antibiotic utilization at Texas Health-Dallas, said he had just finished his seventh ERG training since the program began in 2002. Over that period, he has brought 10 specialists from his hospital group, including its CEO, to join him on the program. His goal is to ensure that every hospital in the Dallas-Fort Worth region sends someone in emergency management on the program because they cannot get this specialized training in the U.S.

More than 150 top American medical personnel from all faiths have already taken part in the program, which typically has between 16 and 20 participants annually. More than 60 WGH physicians and staff have visited hospitals in the American partnership communities to observe and learn from them.

The ERG training is one of a number of initiatives sponsored by the Partnership with Israel, a Jewish Agency for Israel program that organizes various Jewish communities around the world into coalitions that work with specific areas in Israel to promote their regional development and help forge relationships that benefit both partners. The Partnership supports education, twinning and co-existence programs as well as leadership development, economic and tourism initiatives between Israeli communities and those in the Diaspora .

There are 45 partnerships worldwide. Members of the United States Partnership’s Midwestern Consortium (of which Louisville is a member) include Akron, Canton, Dayton, Toledo and  Youngstown in Ohio; Indianapolis, Northwest Indiana and South Bend, Indiana; Des Moines, Iowa; Omaha, Nebraska; and Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth and San Antonio, Texas. A Midwestern Steering Committee meets twice each year – once in Israel and once in the U.S.

For more information about the ERG training, contact Alan Engel at 451-8840.

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