Israel’s Emergency Medical Services Rushes to Save Lives in Turkey

Feb 13, 2023

Clem Boyd

New York (February 13, 2023) — On Tuesday, Felix Lotan, a senior paramedic and disaster response manager with Magen David Adom (MDA), Israel’s Red Cross and national emergency medical services, arrived in Kahramanmaras, Turkey, the epicenter of a 7.8 magnitude earthquake that occurred on Monday, February 6.

On Wednesday, Lotan rescued a 12-year-old boy and a 23-year-old woman who had been under the rubble for nearly 48 hours. On Thursday, he saved another child. All in all, Magen David Adom and the Israeli search and rescue team headed by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) recovered 18 people in the first three days following the devastating earthquake.

“We are working around the clock to save lives,” said Lotan. “We are doing everything we can to save as many lives as possible in the complex terrain conditions.”

The original quake was followed by a series of powerful and deadly aftershocks, including one that occurred as late as Friday. So far 12,000 are believed dead in Turkey, and the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates the death toll could rise as high as 20,000.

“The need for medical and humanitarian aid is expected to last for many weeks,” said Chaim Rafalowski, director of disaster preparedness for MDA. “We are in continuous contact with the Turkish Red Crescent, as well as with some of the largest Red Cross societies in the world and are prepared to provide additional medical and humanitarian aid immediately.”

“The scenes from Turkey are heartbreaking,” commented Cathy Reed, chief executive officer of American Friends of Magen David Adom, the U.S.-based organization that raises financial support for MDA, a non-governmental organization.

“The severity of the loss is overwhelming. I am so thankful to be a part of an organization like MDA that immediately responded to help the nation of Turkey and men like Felix Lotan who are committed to saving lives wherever they are.”

Support Magen David Adom

Magen David Adom paramedics are rushing to Turkey as part of a coordinated international Red Cross response to the devastating earthquake in Turkey. MDA is preparing for a long-term operation — providing medical equipment, specialized supplies for crush injuries, blankets and tents, and everyday medicines to the displaced population. Please give to support the lifesaving work of Magen David Adom.

“It is not my first time in disaster areas after earthquakes,” said Lotan. “For many years I served as deputy commander of the IDF’s [search and rescue] medical corps, and I was part of the rescue delegation to Nepal, as well as others. But I don’t remember a disaster of such magnitude. This is a very serious event.”

Meanwhile, 140 doctors, nurses, pharmacists, technicians, paramedics, and logistics personnel from the Israeli military, Health Ministry, and Magen David Adom began operating a field hospital near Kahramanmaras, using an abandoned medical center building.

MDA will be sending more paramedics and EMTs as part of Israeli and International Red Cross medical and relief delegations to assist the displaced population in the weeks to come. Your donation ensures that vulnerable families are provided with the supplies they need to survive and persevere amid this catastrophe.

To support MDA’s Earthquake Relief Fund, go to 

About Magen David Adom

Magen David Adom is Israel’s national paramedic and Red Cross service. A leader in mass-casualty response and EMS technology, MDA treats and transports nearly 1 million people to hospitals every year; collects, safety-tests, and distributes blood to Israel’s hospitals; and, through its affiliation with the Red Cross movement, responds to disasters around the world.


For more information and to interview Catherine Reed, AFMDA chief executive officer, or Felix Lotan, contact Clem Boyd, director of public relations, at or 724.930.4003.

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