An officer in the Israel Defense Forces’ Unit 669, which traditionally rescues pilots forced to abandon their airplanes and civilians in life-threatening situations like floods, said Thursday that the unit had changed its modus operandi for emergency situations.
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According to the officer, the unit has begun to evacuate the wounded from battlefields with off-road vehicles and fast vehicles from its airborne division. The IDF published images of a number of training exercises that the unit has conducted in the past year, among them the rescue of wounded from the sea and from submarines.
The first of the unit’s teams trained in the new activities saw action during Operation Cast Lead in 2009, rescuing 83 wounded. Ten such teams were in action during the Operation Protective Edge in Gaza two years ago, rescuing 276 wounded soldiers from the battlefield.
Working with the airborne unit, the teams evacuate wounded to helicopters containing additional unit members. “It simply saves people,” a unit officer said. “This force was the first to arrive at any incident with multiple casualties during Protective Edge, and now these teams are participating in every brigade-level exercise.”
Moreover, unit members are also involved in locating and extracting drones that have fallen into enemy territory. According to the officer, the number of rescues has increased relative to the growing use of drones. As drones are of great importance to the air force, rescue teams will also be sent into enemy territory to rescue them.
Unit members are also requited to extract drones that have fallen into the sea, regardless of how far they have sunk.