IDF to probe health program, lack of defibrillator after officer’s dying

The Israel Defense Forces announced on Sunday that they would open a third investigation into the sudden death of Colonel Sharon Asman, who collapsed during a training session on a military base last week.

The probe, which will examine the military’s fitness program and access to medical equipment, will join two other probes already initiated in Asman’s death: a military police investigation that is automatically initiated every time a soldier dies, and a medical autopsy to determine the exact cause of death and evaluate the treatment Asman received.

“The team will make recommendations for steps that can be taken to prevent similar incidents in the future,” the IDF said on Sunday, announcing the third investigation.

Asman, 42, suddenly collapsed Thursday after a brief run with a number of other military officers. He received first aid on site, but was pronounced dead a short time later. Army Radio said it took almost 20 minutes to get a defibrillator to the scene, although it wasn’t immediately clear whether access to the device that controls the heart’s rhythm would necessarily have saved Asman’s life.

His exact cause of death wasn’t immediately known, but it appeared to be some form of heart failure, likely caused by an undiagnosed heart condition.

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Channel 13 news reported that the military is re-evaluating the medical tests senior officers receive to better locate such defects.

Col. Sharon Asman with his daughter Emma. May 17, 2018. (Gershon Elinson / FLASH90)

The military fitness regiment investigation is being led by senior medical officers and combat fitness instructors, the IDF said.

“The team of experts will examine issues related to the IDF’s combat fitness routines, including: preparation for fitness routines, medical equipment and evacuation during combat fitness exercises, training of fitness trainers for medical care, and any other problems that arise during their work,” the IDF said .

Part of the investigation was to investigate the lack of a defibrillator in the gym where Asman collapsed – even though civil gyms were required by law to have the equipment available.

On Saturday evening, the military announced that they were appointing a senior medical officer to head a panel to investigate Asman’s death to begin work on Sunday.

The IDF said the committee would investigate “a wide range of medical issues” related to Asman’s death.

Asman’s death came as a particular shock to the military as he had only taken up brigade commander a few days earlier and was considered a rising star in the IDF.

Col. Sharon Asman is buried in the Kiryat Shaul Military Cemetery on July 4, 2021 after his sudden death after a run last week. (Avshalom Sassoni / Flash90)

He was buried in Tel Aviv’s Kiryat Shaul military cemetery on Sunday.

Asman’s widow, who is also called Sharon, thanked him for “wonderful years of love, support and friendship”.

“Thank you for our two great daughters. Thank you for the conversations, the wisdom, the insight, the serenity. Now everyone knows what we knew all along – how special you were, a rare combination of a man with a spirit and a fighter, ”she said.

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi praised Asman as “an officer and a gentleman” who was “professional and thorough, prudent and courageous”.

Asman had served in the military for about 25 years, fighting in Lebanon and Gaza.

IDF Northern Command head Amir Baram said Asman was “a warrior and a wonderful military man.”

“He was a Sabra – tough on the outside and sensitive on the inside. He has always taken care of his subordinate soldiers and officers, his colleagues and his commanders, ”said Baram.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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