The elite Airborne Rescue and Evacuation Unit 669 and the Egoz reconnaissance battalion of the Northern Command carried out a joint exercise on Sunday, June 3, simulating the evacuation of an injured soldier while under attack. The exercise followed an actual incident that occurred over the weekend, in which the 669 unit rescued an injured commander and soldier of the Infantry Corps.
Immediately before the exercise began, Sgt. Maj. Yoni of 669, who is responsible for the unit’s training sessions with ground forces, alerted his soldiers to the importance of the simulation. „We are preparing for the worst case scenario, where there will probably be many injuries. It is best that the different units communicate with each other, before these occurrences happen,” he announced, before turning off the lights in the hangar where the drill was to take place.
The drill simulated sudden gunfire and explosions. „A missile hit a house and our forces are trapped inside. We’re going in,” said a voice on the communicator. „We have a badly wounded man- right hand and left leg bleeding.” The helicopter was expected to arrive on the scene and evacuate the injured within a record 15 minutes, and the unit began a race against time alternating between directing the aircraft and watching over the injured.
During a real battle, the evacuating forces would have proceeded to the closest hospital, while the ground forces would have had to regain composure and return to battle.
About a day prior to the exercise, forces of the Golani Brigade had encountered an actual attack near the Gaza Strip. After a shooting attack injured a company commander and a soldier, Unit 669 rushed an in-flight crew to the scene by helicopter. The injured were transferred to Soroka Hospital after receiving initial treatment. The incident was concluded without any special complications, for one reason only: The units have trained for these sorts of scenarios many times before.
„I don’t think there is even a reason for me to explain why these exercises are crucial. The facts speak for themselves,” said Capt. Dr. Omri Shaintel, commanding officer of the Golani Brigade’s Medical Unit.
„When there are injuries on hand, and a real helicopter arrives from up above, everyone stops for a minute, takes a look up and gets excited. It’s an indescribable feeling,” said First Sgt. Itay, a fighter and paramedic of the Egoz Unit, who has already operated under fire. „You wait for it to land, make sure that the injured are carefully lifted onto it, and go back to battle, as if nothing happened. At that moment you have to forget whatever happened and look forward. There is no time for you to stop.” (IDF)