Magen David Adom, Israel’s national EMS organization, dedicated its new National Operations Center on Feb. 25, a dispatch center east of Tel Aviv that’s housed in a reinforced and partially subterranean facility designed to be protected against missile, chemical and biological attack. The new center has been fully operational since Feb. 2.

The regional dispatch centers for the Yarkon and Ayalon regions—two of the nine regional dispatch centers MDA also operates—are also now working out of the protected facility.

The dedication on Monday was attended by more than 200 people, including Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon.

The move to a protected dispatch facility is one of several initiatives Magen David Adom has undertaken in recent years to reduce the disruptions that Israel’s emergency medical services would have to contend with in the event of a war. MDA is also currently constructing a new reinforced blood-services center in Ramla in central Israel; like the new National Operations Center, it is designed to be protected against attack. That facility is slated to be completed in late 2020.

“As the nation’s EMS, blood-services and disaster-relief agency, we need to prepare for virtually every scenario,” said Eli Bin, MDA Israel’s director general. “When our services will be most critically needed, like during a war, it’s especially important that our dispatch operations not be compromised.”

Israel’s director general of Magen David Adom Eli Bin addresses the crowd at the dedication of the new National Operations Center on Feb. 25, 2019. Credit: Magen David Adom.

The new National Operations Center is just one floor below MDA’s previous dispatch center. The lower floor underwent extensive renovations to be reinforced and fitted with a state-of-the-art air-filtration system to guard against a number of different kinds of attacks.

“Our goal was to harden our facility and ensure that we could continue operating in a war without causing any disruption to our day-to-day EMS operations during the transition,” said Ido Rosenblat, MDA’s chief information officer.

As an additional fail-safe measure, MDA’s regional dispatch centers can handle the National Operations Center’s dispatch load should it be disabled. In addition, a state-of-the-art mobile command center can also take over much of the dispatch operations.

“The key to protecting our ability to dispatch EMTs to medical emergencies in a war or natural disaster is redundancy,” said Rosenblat. “And that means not only directly protecting the National Operations Center, but ensuring there are other viable options even if that fails.”

As Israel’s national EMS dispatchers, Magen David Adom deploys 1,100 of its own ambulances, 25,000 MDA EMTs, as well as more than 8,500 first responders (most based on motorcycles), from within its own ranks and from 17 independent rescue organizations throughout Israel.