Israel’s Magen David Adom rescue service went on high alert ahead of Yom Kippur, which begins Tuesday night, in order to deal with any injuries — from fainting fasters to victims of high-speed bicycle crashes.
The organization said hundreds of extra medics, paramedics, ambulances and volunteers would be deployed at its branches over the holiest day of the Jewish year, ready to administer any emergency medical treatment.
“Thousands of people suffer on the fast from dehydration, fainting and road accidents,” said Magen David Adom Director Eli Bin.
Bin said he had ordered the organization onto its highest level of alert.
Yom Kippur starts at sunset Tuesday and ends at nightfall Wednesday. The weather this year is forecast to be hotter than usual, with temperatures around or above 30°C (86°F) across the country.
Most injuries over Yom Kippur come from accidents on the roads as tens of thousands of children and teens take advantage of the deserted streets to ride their bicycles. Other common Yom Kippur injuries are caused by parents leaving children unattended outside synagogues and, of course, dehydration and complications from fasting, MDA said.
The organization said it also routinely takes dozens of women in labor to hospitals on Yom Kippur.
“This year too, while many are in the synagogues and children are playing outside, MDA will be deployed to save lives,” Bin said, calling on the public to free up roads to allow ambulances to pass by without hindrance.
Almost all public services shut down in Israel over the 25-hour fast and most roads are deserted. However, in past years there have been instances of some ultra-Orthodox Jews throwing stones at those vehicles that do drive on Yom Kippur.