Another world-first for tiny Israel

Israel started to conceive their new disaster communications centre after 9/11 and commissioned it after Carmel. Now they are offering to share the tech with the world. SA donors contributing R2.5m over 2 years towards the massive cost of the project.
by ANT KATZ | Oct 30, 2013

 Magen David Adom – the equivalent of the Israeli Red Cross - last week launched its new, state-of-the-art incident command centre which it calls a “National Mobile Command and Control Vehicle.” It is reportedly the most advanced command truck operating in the world today and designed to assist first responders in the case of a major calamity.

The vehicle, if one can even classify it as that, was invented, built and programmed to act as a special MDA command post.
9-MDA Command centre

It is mounted on a Dutch DAF truck chassis and was built in England and equipped with advanced technologies from Israel.

The 16m long behemoth is 4m high and weighs in at 32 tons. It is supported by a generator truck and fuel tank which holds over 900l of diesel.

Six South Africans were there

A delegation of six members of MDA-SA attended last week’s unveiling.
9-MDA Mark Hyman and Sharon Elwood

PICTURED AT LEFT: Mark Hyman, chairman of MDA-SA and fellow board member Sharon Elwood representing Christian Friends of MDA-SA are shown one of the high tech consoles the vehicle by a professional MDA operator

They were Michael ‘Bags’ Bagraim, Patron of MDA-SA and his wife Patsy; Mark Hyman, chairman, and his wife Beulah who is executive secretary of MDA-SA; Sharon Elwood of Christian Friends of MDA-SA; and Wally Katz and Gordon Bloch who are both trustees of MDA-SA but live in Israel.

MDA-SA was also PROMOTED within the world-wide structures of the parent body last week – and now enjoys equal status with massive donor countries such as the USA, UK and France.
9-MDA situation room

PICTURED RIGHT: The command centre includes a huge boardroom which is completely separate from the operational stations

On his return to SA, Bags told Jewish Report that MDA-SA had raised R1-million towards the cost of the new command centre and had committed to contributing a further R1.5-million in 2014.

Bagraim said that the initial planning and development of the new command centre was based on “lessons learned from 9/11” when all communications came to a standstill. The command centre has the ability to set up cell phone and landline connections as well as satellite and two-way radio communications.

9-MDA HOME double work station

PICTURED LEFT: Just two of the many high-tach workstations that allow the 'beast' to take charge of - and repair or replace - every conceivable type of communication that can be required during a humanitarian disaster that disables all other comms links

The centre is brimming with technology, aerials and dishes to keep communication channels open. “Israel is sharing the technology with the world,” said Bags. With the value of the centre during humanitarian disasters, he says, Israel has been sharing their technical development with governments from around the world.

Among other things, the truck is equipped with advanced cameras that rise 19m high and includes a conference room.

Conceived after 9/11, commissioned after Carmel

Construction, which took four years, was commissioned after the 2009 Carmel fire disaster - during which the MDA encountered challenges with regard to communications and coordination of rescue efforts.

The next major MDA project will be the building of an underground blood bank facility – another project in which MDA-SA has agreed to assist with ongoing funding.


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