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Breaking the bad news the right way

Posted By Joe Charlaff On February 26, 2006 @ 8:00 am In | No Comments

MADAN C.N.C. is bringing instant notification to concerned families all over the world.Imagine this scenario. A foreign tourist visiting Disney World suffers a heart attack. He is taken to the nearest hospital, but is incoherent and is unable to supply his personal information to the staff. His passport is found, and the authorities call his country’s consulate, but it’s the weekend and nobody is available to receive the information.

Under such circumstances, there could easily be a two or three day delay before the country’s authorities finally learn of the illness, or, potentially, his death. And when an official finally arrives at the victim’s home to notify the family, the person on the other side of the door could be totally unequipped to receive the bad news – an aged parent with a weak heart themselves, or a young child.

That nightmarish scenario could be avoided with the Casualty Notification Center, a system developed by Israeli start-up, MADAN C.N.C Ltd. The system is tailored to situations where there’s been a sudden death or if an injured person is not able to function, due to being either unconscious or confused.

Subscribers are equipped with a special emergency card bearing a toll free number. When an accident occurs a CNC is immediately contacted, receiving a report of the incident with the personal details of the injured subscriber. A specially trained agent from MADAN-CNC then immediately contacts the pre-designated person – a family member or a friend – who has been named by the member as the most suitable to deal with the news. The instruction can be changed if the subscriber is visiting a foreign country where he or she may have friends or relatives.

The MADAN-CNC card is attached permanently to an identity document such as a driver’s license, passport etc, and printed on the card is a request for the rescue officials or the hospital staff to contact MADAN-CNC using the toll free telephone number.

The system is the brainchild of Uri Segall, a reserve colonel in the Israel Defense Forces, with more than twenty years experience in handling incidents involving casualties in the army. While serving in the army, the Rehovot resident was involved in writing procedures in the sensitive issue of family notification, as well as conducting seminars on the subject.

The CNC concept developed when Segall realized that there is no existing procedure to deal with the quick relay of news of an incident to an injured (or dead) person’s family. He feels that the families of ordinary citizens are entitled to the same high standards of treatment that are given to families of soldiers who are injured.

“‘We care for the living’ is the motto of MADAN C.N.C., therefore conveying the information to the person’s family as soon as possible is of utmost importance, especially in the case of serious injury – this could save lives,” Segall told ISRAEL21c.

Segall surrounded himself with a team of experts, including a specialist in forensic medicine, Dr.Chen Kugel; Yoram Ben Yehuda an expert in the treatment and prevention of post-traumatic disorders; a psychiatric consultant, Dr. Haim Knobler; and Professor Adam Friedman, a genetics and virology consultant.

After 2005′s terror bombings in London, the first fatality was only identified after 72 hours had passed, and only several days later were more bodies identified causing endless and unnecessary anguish to the families who were kept in suspense.

“Since identification of unknown victims is based on comparison of records and other known information about a missing person with data obtained by examination of the body, a reservoir of available data may shorten the identification process and make it more efficient,” said Kugel, who was head of the medical identification unit of IDF.

The benefits of MADAN CNC’s early notification system are manifold. In the case of serious injury, the family would be able to decide immediately if they wanted to arrange treatment in a better-equipped facility. In addition, the injured person’s family would be able to relay all the relevant medical data to the hospital alerting the staff to any special conditions such as high blood pressure or drug sensitivity.

“If any special treatment is required it could be commenced immediately, possibly resulting in saving the patient’s life, when time is of the essence. Delay could be fatal if quick decisions are not made,” said Segall.

In the event of a death, the Madan C.N.C. system establishes effective reliable reservoirs of ante-mortem identification data (e.g. dental x-rays, fingerprints, DNA samples etc), which can shorten procedures significantly.

The identification of the body is of utmost importance for a variety of reasons. Accurate identification allows the family to begin the grieving process, and proceed with the necessary funeral arrangements.

In addition to these services, the company also offers psychological counseling from the moment of notification that a person has died, throughout the mourning period. It also offers group, individual and family counseling to assist in the adjustment to loss or trauma.

The service is targeted to major companies whose employees travel frequently to high risk destinations. A database would be set up by MADAN-CNC at company headquarters with a back- up situated elsewhere, if required. MADAN-CNC will also act in a consultant capacity to provide any support needed by the company including training of selected staff to deal with incidents.

Segall plans to launch the CNC program in Israel this spring, with procedures already being written for companies. Magen David Adom (Israel’s emergency services), have already contracted to have selected personnel trained in aspects of the program including the treatment and prevention of post-traumatic stress disorder. The development plan is to establish the Casualties Notification Center in Israel and gradually establish other centers abroad as the demand arises.

A presentation of the project was made to the delegates at last year’s General Assembly of the United Jewish Communities in Toronto in 2005, where approximately 4000 people attended. Segall reports having had contacts with interested parties in the USA and Canada and hopes to have a center established during 2006 in one of the communities.

MADAN-CNC’s goal is to establish Casualties Notification Centers for government institutes, police, municipalities, communities, organizations and companies worldwide.

“In current reality, the likelihood of an incident (terror act, nature disaster or other), resulting in casualties must always be taken into consideration. Proper handling may minimize immediate, or later consequences of such an incident,” Segall emphasized.

“There is a saying ‘saving one soul is like saving an entire world.’ If this happens as a result of our project we will regard this as a great achievement.”

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