As 19-year-old Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev “clings to life,” Israeli media revealed that two of the senior doctors treating Tsarnaev have abundant past experience treating victims of terror. That’s because they’re from Israel.
Dr. Kevin (Ilan) Tabb, president and CEO of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston told the Israeli website Ynet that Tsarnaev is in stable condition but that because of wounds to his throat, he may never be able to speak again.
Tabb received his medical degree at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and is also a board member of Hadassah-Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem. That background gave him a unique perspective in responding to Monday’s terrorist attack.
“Unfortunately, I have had a lot of experience with these types of injuries after years of treating people injured in terror attacks in Israel,” Tabb said.
He told Ynet that the Boston Marathon attack resulted in “numerous leg injuries from the blasts, and there were many amputations as well. In Israel we are used to this and here they are not, but the hospital was prepared. Most of those who were seriously injured in the attack were sent to the three main trauma centers in Boston, including ours.
“It was very similar to what I was used to in Israel in that we had to admit many injured people in a short period of time,” Professor Tabb said. “The fact that we are treating both the victims and the suspected terrorist also reminds me of similar situations in Israel. In Israel we had an injured soldier and a terrorist lying on adjacent beds. When an injured person is admitted to the ER, the doctor or nurse treats him without asking questions.”
“We have a few Israeli doctors in the emergency room, and the director of the ER is also Israeli. But most of the physicians at the hospital are not Israeli, and they functioned exceptionally well,” Tabb added.
Dr. Daniel Talmor, the Israeli physician who heads the ER at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center tells Israel Army Radio that Tsarnaev has “serious injuries, but I believe he will live.”
Police asked the medical staff not to offer further details on the specifics of the medical treatment being provided to the suspect, who Talmor says is in isolation with “very, very tight security.”
He gave kudos to the staff’s professionalism while treating the suspect authorities believe to be behind Monday’s atrocity.
Talmor said in the interview Sunday morning, “The staff is very professional. Just like it responded professionally to the wounded on Monday, it responded professionally to [the arrival of] both of the terrorists. We admitted both of them… the main feeling of the staff is a feeling of closure that they were able to capture the terrorist and to arrest him. The people are treating him like any seriously injured patient, professionally, exactly like Israeli doctors, Israeli [hospital] staff treat all the injured who arrive.”
Talmor worked in Israel during the 1990s and treated victims of Palestinian terror attacks then that killed and maimed civilians.
“The feeling is always that Israel is home, especially in days like today,” he said.
“The subject of a mass terrorist act is something we practice a lot. I think one of the reasons for the good treatment the patients received on Monday is because we were already trained for a mass terrorist act at the marathon. Like in every year, tens or hundreds of people arrive who get dehydrated or faint at the marathon…” Talmor added.
This year, instead of treating those who were dehydrated, doctors at the medical center treated the seriously wounded.
Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk also noted the similarity of Monday’s scene with Israel’s experience with Palestinian suicide bombings.
While on a visit to Israel this weekend, he told Israel Channel 2, “It’s strange that I’m here…and now it’s happening back home.”
“Israel is usually Ground Zero for terrorism” he said.
“Home grown terrorism is a very scary thing…to imagine that they are in our beds,” he added, according to the Jerusalem Post.
Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren described the shared U.S.-Israeli experience of being in the crosshairs of terrorists:
“The people of Boston, who on the day of the bombing were celebrating liberty’s birthday, will not submit. Our experience in Israel has taught us that communities and caregivers, police and security forces, elected leaders and volunteers can unite at such times and block the terrorists from achieving their objectives,” Amb. Oren wrote on CNN.com.
“While taking all possible measures to prevent further loss of life, we adamantly refuse to forfeit our way of life,” Oren added.