News and Events

On High Alert Since October 7

Publication Date: 4/16/2024 9:00 AM

Following the events of October 7, the IDF Home Front Command and Israel’s Ministry of Health instructed healthcare providers to prepare themselves for escalating conflict. Hospitals nationwide, Magen David Adom—Israel’s emergency response unit, and community healthcare providers sprang into action.

The Fortified Underground Emergency Hospital at Rambam – Ready for Action. Photography: Rambam HCC.
The Fortified Underground Emergency Hospital at Rambam – Ready for Action. Photography: Rambam HCC.

Within 36 hours of receiving the instruction, the Fortified Underground Emergency Hospital (FUEH) at Rambam Health Care Campus (Rambam) was ready to deal with any possible emergency scenario. In peacetime, the FUEH is used as an underground parking lot. However, this largest of its kind facility has proved to be a vital national asset during the Ebola scare, the Second Lebanon War, and COVID-19.

To maintain preparedness, Rambam performs regular drills year-round with hospital staff, and emergency services, in addition to drills with other hospitals without a fortified facility whose patients will be treated at the FUEH during a mass casualty emergency.

The need for emergency preparedness was heightened over the weekend when Iran launched a massive missile and drone attack directed at Israel. Thanks to Israel's advanced defense systems and the help of its allies, most were intercepted, and only one individual was wounded—a seven-year-old girl, now recovering at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba, close to her home.

“The underground hospital has room for 1,200 patients, and there is room for another 200 patients in above-ground fortified areas,” explains Professor Michael Halberthal, Rambam’s director general.

In the event of a full-scale war, life-saving medical equipment and computer systems, which run on electricity, would be affected by probable power outages. Professor Halberthal adds, “Our underground hospital can operate as an isolated island without outside help for three days. We can also be self-sufficient in terms of power for three to four days.”

With operating rooms, a delivery ward, dialysis stations, and more, Rambam’s FUEH is designed to deal with most medical needs. The hospital’s mission to save lives remains paramount. However, the current situation requires an ongoing adaptation of Rambam’s functional and operational needs, underscoring the importance of sustained outside support.

The surgical  area of the Fortified Underground Emergency Hospital at Rambam.
Photography: Rambam HCC

Based on an article that first appeared in The Times of Israel, a leading national news website.