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Need to be better prepared

Nov 18,2017
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The search results for the phrase “Miracle of Moses” are mostly video recordings from dash cams on ambulances. Cars move to the sides of the road and let the ambulance pass, like the parting of the Red Sea. We all feel grateful and moved by the consideration of the drivers and think that we would also do the same if we were ever in that situation. In the busy modern world, it is nothing short of a miracle. I have become more conscious and sensitive about sirens when driving.

Only three, four years ago, the parting of the cars was not so common. Television news often showed footage of some cars not yielding when they heard sirens. Public awareness has greatly improved as people began to understand the desperate situations. Society improves when we all work together to help save lives.

Nevertheless, the North Korean soldier who was shot before defecting through Panmunjom made me think that the miracle is still far away. He was transported to Aju University Medical Center in Suwon. Less than one hour after he defected, the North Korean soldier was moved to a civilian hospital. There is no trauma center dedicated to the military. Military authorities explained that they had a contract with Professor Lee Kug-jong, the acclaimed specialist who saved captain Seok Hae-gyun after he was attacked by Somali pirates. There was no “Lee Kug-jong” system at Panmunjom and on the front lines.

Professor Lee is agonized over the situation. Not about the hardware of the trauma center, but instead he is more concerned about the emergency transport system. In fact, he often has to make emergency calls on helicopters. He said that he was envious of the Dustoff casualty evacuation conducted by the U.S. Forces, which transported the North Korean soldier and conducted the emergency treatment of taking as much air out of his chest possible. The ROK military does not have an equivalent unit, and the Dustoff saved the North Korean defector. The casualty evacuation was named Dustoff in 1962 after the dust from the helicopters landing to evacuate injured soldiers during the Vietnam War. The spirit of dustoff is to save every single soldier fighting for the country. It is also an acronym of “Dedicated Unhesitating Service To Our Fighting Forces.” The United States reflected this spirit into its system.

Hopefully, the ROK forces will have such a team. The authorities should not lightly take the sarcastic comment posted online: “Korean forces must have better golf courses than the U.S. forces.” The drivers who wished for the Miracles of Moses would feel the same.

JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 17, Page 34

*The author is a deputy national news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

KIM SEUNG-HYEON