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Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
Email: mfarris@wwltv.com | Twitter: @megfarriswwl

NEW ORLEANS -- New Orleans and Israeli doctors and first responders share something in common -- a lot of hands-on experience saving lives during disasters.

But they know there will be more and they want to improve, so they are meeting for three days in local hospitals to exchange knowledge.

Doctors in the audience of the New Orleans Israel Partnership on Emergency Response and Medicine watched reports that played on the air in Israel of Hurricane Katrina in Hebrew. In New Orleans, we watched TV reports of terrorism in Israel in English.

Behind all those scenes are first responders, doctors and surgeons saving lives.

This week medical experts from both sides of the globe are together learning from each others' experiences.

'I think we're pretty good in New Orleans at slow disasters and that's a disaster you know about, hurricanes. The Israelis are very good at fast disasters, handling bombings, handling major shootings. They've had 20,000 of these kinds of things and so they've had a lot more experience,' said Tulane trauma surgeon Dr. Norman McSwain. He is also the head trauma surgeon at the Spirit of Charity Level 1 Trauma Center at the LSU Interim Hospital.

Inside that trauma center, LSUHSC and Tulane medical staff deal with shootings, the Mother's Day multiple shooting this year, and years ago, the Mother's Day bus crash.

But still, those were smaller than fast disasters that happen on a regular basis in Israel.

'Unfortunately, also Israel, we face terrorists attacks and other disasters which made us, gave us experience,' said Dr. Arnon Afek, the director of Medical Affairs, Israeli Ministry of Health.

'You know the principles are the same. You need communication. You need hospital beds. You need good administration. You need good trauma surgeons,' said Dr. Avraham Rivkind, head of the department of General Surgery and Shock Trauma Unit at Hadassah Medical Organization.

In New Orleans, as events such as hurricanes and Mardi Gras unfold, medical experts, trauma surgeons, doctors who evacuated NICU infants, have a steady stream of people in need.

The Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans brought experts from Israel and several local hospitals together. They included LSUHSC, Tulane, Ochsner, Touro, and Children's Hospital along with Acadian Ambulance.

'We have common values. We also unfortunately have common threads,' said Michael Weil, the executive director of Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans.

'What I'm learning, you need to have well organized, preplanned thought processes in place, rehearsed, and I see it's done very well both in Israel and here in New Orleans,' said Dr. Michael Wasserman, an Ochsner pediatrician.

Talks from Israeli doctors Tuesday and Wednesday night are open to everyone.

'Ethical Dilemmas' is tonight at Ochsner from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at the Brent House Conference Center on Jefferson Highway, on Ochsner's main campus.

'Lessons Learned from Disasters' is the topic at Tulane University from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday night in the Kendall Cram lecture Hall.

Find our more about the NIPERM conference here and the conference schedule here.

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