(JTA) — Jordanian and Israeli paramedic students are training together for the first time.
Fifteen Jordanian students spent the past academic year at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba as part of the Israeli-Jordanian Academic Emergency Medicine Collaboration.
The three-year program, taught in English and Arabic, will allow Jordanian paramedics to obtain the same high level of emergency medical training as their Israeli counterparts, allowing them to respond more effectively to crises and natural disasters.
"Experts say it’s just a matter of time before a major earthquake hits the region," said Ronni Strongin, spokeswoman for American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. "This will help train a joint response team."
Israel’s Magen David Adom and Jordan’s Red Crescent, as well as both governments, have sanctioned the program. In a region where collaboration with Israel is often shunned, project organizers note the cooperation characterizing the program, the result of more than a decade of negotiations.
The Israeli partners credit Dr. Mohammed Al-Hadid, president of the Jordan Red Crescent, for his key role in advancing the program. As the former head of the International Red Cross, Al-Hadid chaired the conference that admitted Israel into that world body.
Until now, Al-Hadid said, Jordan sent its students to Australia or the United States, the only other two countries that provide emergency medical response training at the bachelor’s degree level.
"We were very impressed with the level of expertise demonstrated in Israel," he told Ben-Gurion University officials. "And when you see something that is working for others, you want to have the best for your own people."