Former Atlantan Arie Pelta has been named the head of medicine for the Beit Shemesh region of United Hatzalah.
Pelta, a surgeon and reservist in the Israel Defense Forces, is going through combat medical officer training but took time from his reserve duty to speak about the recent appointment.
“It’s ironic that I am talking about this appointment now,” Pelta said. “The irony lies in the similarities between what I am learning in training here in the IDF and what I need to do for United Hatzalah at home. The most important thing is to know how to properly manage one’s team in the field during a whole range of emergencies, the most complex of which is a mass-casualty incident or MCI. There, the highest-ranking medical responder needs to take charge of all the medical responders in the field and give them precise instructions on how to triage and treat patients. Essentially, I have to be the person who tells everyone else what to do.”
The responsibility that falls on Pelta with this new position is not lightly managed.
The logistics for Pelta’s new position can be overwhelming for anyone untrained in managing a disaster such as a terror attack or large car crash.
“A lot of times in EMS work in the field, a lot of EMTs, paramedics and other volunteers arrive. While they each know how to treat a patient, many times it is difficult to ascertain who to treat first and how to make that distinction,” Pelta said. “The triage decisions, as well as making sure that all of the patients in the field have been attended to, necessitate split-second decisions that save lives time and time again.”
Pelta said the training from United Hatzalah and the IDF complement each other.
He recently trained six United Hatzalah volunteers in Beit Shemesh as a cohesive unit so that when they arrive at a trauma scene, each one finds the proper place among the responders and knows exactly what each team member is doing.
“The whole idea is figuring out a way to improve the quality of the training that we receive in order to be able to provide the highest level of care for the patients with the fastest response time possible” Pelta said. “The time it takes responders to figure out where they are needed during an MCI or any other emergency is time that the patient is not receiving care.”
Before making aliyah, Pelta led the colorectal division at Atlanta Medical Center and was a professor of surgery at the Medical College of Georgia. He now works out of Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot and has a private clinic in the Assuta Medical Center in Tel Aviv and private offices in Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh.