African infiltrators at the border
Photo: Reuters

Medics by day, security guards by night

Paramedics at holding facility for teen infiltrators made to fill in for IPS guards due to personnel shortage; warn situation places youths as risk

Recent changes in the Israel Prison Service regulations require paramedics at the Matan juvenile detention facility to play a double-role as prison guards. The new security regulations were set after six teenage African infiltrators escaped from the facility over the summer.


"It's impossible to act both as a medical officer and a security team. This decision puts the teens's health at risk," a paramedic raging against the decision told Ynet on Tuesday.


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The IPS offered an official statement, saying that, "The new assignments were required due to changes in security regulations, and are being adapted to current needs. The paramedics were trained to be security guards and were integrated into different roles considering their primary task as paramedics."


The statement also stressed that "any medical need is being treated with the highest priority and is being addressed professionally."


The Matan facility currently holds dozens of teenaged inflators and refugees, who have arrived in Israel without their parents. Only two of the six who escaped the facility over the summer were caught so far.


Due to the escape, all 70 juvenile detainees were transferred to the Giveon Prison and were returned to the facility only last week, after major security revisions were made to it. 


Upon their return, the facility's staff was notified that no new recruitments will take place, and that the paramedics will be given additional tasks as security guards.


"A paramedic has to constantly remain on-call rather than being on-guard," one of the paramedics told Ynet. "What's a paramedic to do when one of the teenagers needs an urgent medical attention while being on duty as a guard? Is he to abandon his post? Wait for someone to replace him while losing precious time? And how is he expected to medically treat the juveniles after guarding without getting any sleep?"

Other paramedics explained how dealing with security duties hurt the regular medical treatment, including three daily patrols through the youngsters' rooms, medical examinations, and urgent medical treatments.


According to Doctors for Human Rights official Anat Litvin, every facility has to have a paramedic on call 24/7: "It's an unbearable situation seriously impending ability to provide reasonable care." Litvin told Ynet, "There's a reason why these regulations exist."


Omri Efraim contributed to this report



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פרסום ראשון: 10.09.12, 11:49
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