— by Barbara Sofer
Outside the Swartz Center for Emergency Medicine (CEM) at Hadassah’s hospital in Jerusalem, TV cameramen were waiting for the sirens of the ambulance. A young man who had been stabbed by a terrorist was already there.
The terrorist, allegedly associated with Islamic jihad, had driven his vehicle into a bus stop, running over 26-year-old Dalia Lemkus. When his minivan hit an obstruction, he jumped out and began stabbing her and others before a security guard shot him. The terrorist ran away after being shot, but the guard pursued him and shot him again. The terrorist was coming in the second ambulance.
The ambulance parked near the entrance of the CEM. Medics hurried around the back and carried a swarthy, bloodied man on a stretcher into the trauma center. “The terrorist,” a woman in the waiting room near ambulatory care whispered. “It must be the terrorist.”
Doctors, nurses, auxiliary staff, soldiers and policemen crowded into the trauma room. Prominent trauma surgeon Avi Rivkind, internationally recognized for handling terror treatment, was orchestrating the care.
The trauma unit was built in the wake of the Second Intifada, between 2000 and 2005, when about half of the terror victims in the country were treated in Hadassah’s hospitals. A team of 10 medics, eight Jews and two Arab, was struggling together to save the lives of these patients.
The terrorist was placed in the far left bay; the man he had stabbed to the right. They received the same treatment.
The victim needed a CAT scan. The terrorist, identified as Maher Hadi a-Hashalmoun from Hebron, was suspected to have a bullet in his heart. Imaging technicians and a cardio-thoracic surgeon were summoned, and a senior orthopedic surgeon stood by.
A group of physicians hovered over the computer to interpret the tests. Would the terrorist need heart surgery? The hospital’s director phoned in a request to have operating room number eight readied, just in case.
The terror victim’s stab wounds were evaluated. One of the doctors said that the first CAT scan was different from the second.
Meanwhile, news of another possible stabbing and an injury from a stoning arrived. The empty bays of the trauma center did not need to be readied — they are always ready.
Eighteen physicians, among them Hadassah’s most experienced, surrounded the terrorist as the cardiothoracic surgeon read the test results: The bullet did not hit the terrorist’s heart. The terrorist was wheeled out as specialists began to leave.
The media reported that the terrorist’s other victim, Dalia Lemkus, died of her wounds at the site.
The TV cameras had moved to the atrium of the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Tower. It was too cold and dark outside. The deputy’s director, Dr. Ashi Salmon, spoke before TV cameras. Patients from three other attacks are still at the hospital, he told them.
Patients were waiting for care at the ER walk-in service. Some were wearing kefiyyas, others streimels, still-others were bare-headed. Arab and Jew, religious and secular, and even terror victim and terrorist are treated the same.