Dozens were injured this morning when a bus transporting Palestinian schoolchildren and a truck collided on wet roads in northern Jerusalem. MDA and Police were alerted. Fire engines rushed to the scene near the Hizme village checkpoint that separates Jerusalem and the West Bank. Dead victims were removed from the burning vehicles.
As in all mass trauma events, Hadassah was also immediately alerted.
Three seriously injured children aged 3 and 4 were rushed to the Hadassah Mount Scopus Emergency Room, where they received initial treatment. A moderately injured truck driver was also taken to the Mt Scopus ER. Other victims were taken to a Ramallah hospital.
Urgent trauma care was needed for the three critically injured children. They were rushed by ambulances to Hadassah Ein Kerem, escorted by pediatricians and anesthesiologists.
Within seconds after we were notified, a sense of controlled urgency was felt throughout the Ein Kerem Hospital. While the ambulances were speeding to Ein Kerem, the Trauma Unit in the Judy and Sidney Swartz Center for Emergency Medicine filled with dozens of medical professionals and was ready to receive victims.
The three unconscious children arrived in separate ambulances. They had been sedated and arrived ventilated, covered with special protective foil blankets, black from their burns. Airways had to be kept open, large amounts of analgesics were administered. X-rays were taken. Burned skin was carefully removed, and blood washed away so the multidisciplinary Team could properly assess and treat the damage.
The Team included pediatric surgeons, pediatric plastic surgeons, general surgeons, anesthetists, pediatric intensivists (PICU), pulmonologists, orthopedists, ophthalmologists, maxillo-facial specialists, radiologists, nurses, and social workers.
Hundreds of calls began pouring into Hadassah from concerned family members, and dozens arrived at the Hospital. Within minutes a special Family Information Room was opened, manned with Arabic and Hebrew-speaking Social Workers. We made extensive efforts to receive a list of the wounded from the hospital in Ramallah, but this became a mission impossible. We had to send one of our physicians over there, and he wrote down the names of the children, and sent it back here so that we can share it with worried relatives who did not know where their children were.
Local and foreign television crews came to cover the event, and were updated by Dr. Yuval Weiss, director, Hadassah Ein Kerem, while many others kept calling on the phone asking for new information every minute. Our security personnel helped direct the controlled pandemonium.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat came to hear details first-hand from Dr. Yuval Weiss and other professionals. He visited the Trauma Room and then the Family Information Room, where he spoke with Social Workers and concerned family members. At that stage, the children had not yet been identified.
Even now, as I write these lines, efforts are still being made to identify the three small children, with the assistance of the Palestinian Authority Coordinator and Hadassah Social Workers. Their clothes were photographed and photos were distributed among family members.
One of the three wounded, a girl, was identified by her parents. She suffers from burns on 25% of her body and is being treated now in the general intensive care unit. The other two children are still unidentified. They are in the pediatric intensive care unit. One of them is in serious but stable condition with burns on his face mainly. The other is in acute condition with burns all over his body.
During treatment of the crash victims in the Trauma Unit, three other trauma patients were rushed to the Unit and treated in side bays.
As I'm writing these lines, 5 additional children, lightly wounded, arrived with their parents at Mt. Scopus ER and they are being treated there now.
Attached you'll find pictures taken in the trauma unit by Dvora Wilshansky from our development department, who also helped me to write this message to you.
Shabat Shalom from Jerusalem,