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Paramedics enjoy their version of Olympics in Israel
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10:18, September 10, 2008

Fire burning in a green oil barrel, siren ringing in the air, a young man rushed up a sloping land by the Dead Sea with a M-16 rifle, leaving his girlfriend on the beach and looking around anxiously.

However, he was stopped by two paramedics in white shirts. Seeing the Shield of David sign on their shirts, the brave young man realized that there is no accident but a rescue exercise for paramedics.

With smile on his face, he called his lover to watch the interesting exercise together.

The scene occurred in Ein Gedi Car Park, one of the 11 competition stations in the second Magen David Adom (MDA) Olympics 2008, which is organized by MDA.

MDA, meaning "red shield of David" in English, is the Jewish state's rescue service. Since June of 2006, MDA has been officially recognized by the International Committee of the Red Cross as the national aid society of Israel and a member of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

In 2006, the first MDA Olympics was held around Lake Kinneret and Western Galilee in northern Israel.

Upon the heels of the 29th Summer Olympics in Beijing, the special "Olympics" was held from Sunday to Wednesday by the Dead Sea and the southern town of Dimona under the theme of "Saving Lives at the Dead Sea."

About 180 medics and paramedics from Israel and 12 other countries, divided into about 40 teams, took part in the biyearly international event.

Yerucham Mandola, spokesman of MDA, told Xinhua that since the competition was aimed to test the professionalism and capabilities of the medical teams in saving lives under difficult conditions, the scene in every station was true to life and some professional actors were invited to act the injured persons.

The scenario in Ein Gedi Car Park, 70 km southeast of Jerusalem, is that when a five-member family barbeques on the beach, gas explodes, then the "father" leads a team of paramedics to the spot. The paramedics must find the "missing youngest baby" while rescuing other "injured," and send one of them to a helicopter waiting nearby.

For most competitors, it was the first time to step into such an arena, but they were all good players.

"Their performance is very good and professional. You know, in some real accidents taking place in Jerusalem, the survivors go crazy, it's very important to calm them down," Ron Rychtel, the " father" who verged on total collapse, told Xinhua after a team from MDA finished their work.

Shirly, a young paramedic wearing glasses, talked a lot with the "father" to calm him down. Meanwhile, she found the "missing baby" behind a tree.

Hearing the praise from the "father," the girl who joined MDA for only two years smiled shyly, saying that "I have met some accidents and got some experience, but it's still very tough."

However, for Gurkan Ozel, a veteran paramedic and helicopter pilot from Turkish Ministry of Health, the MDA Olympics is both fun and tough exercise.

"It's half-and-half, vacation and task," he said outside a Bedouin tent on top of a stony hill. "The most interesting thing is you can meet many friends and exchange experience with them."

In his competition station, about 200 km south of Jerusalem, paramedics must ride camels to the camp site where a "mother" is awaiting them to help her newborn baby.

Mandola said all teams would have to deal with these different scenarios, and the two judges in every station would assess and grade their performances.

"It's a good event; everything is true to life," O'driscoll, a paramedic from Ireland, told Xinhua after finishing his match in the Bedouin tent.

Then he and three teammates rushed into an ambulance, driving to their next station Western Masada Car Park, where a "Roman warrior" wounded by an arrow is waiting for them.

Source: Xinhua

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