Acute response to the October 7th hostage release: rapid development and evaluation of the novel ReSPOND protocol implementation within a children’s hospital

Naama de la Fontaine, Tamar Silberg, Jörg M. Fegert, Shlomit Tsafrir, Hana Weisman, Noa Rubin, Moshe Ashkenazi, Nitsa Nacasch, Michael L. Polliack, Wendy Chen, Meirav Herman-Raz, Ronit Wachsberg-Lachmanovich, Liat Pessach-Gelblum, Amitai Ziv, Anat Moshkovitz, Noya Shilo, Yael Frenkel-Nir, Doron Gothelf, Itai M. Pessach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The decision to allocate hospitals for the initial reception of hostages abducted on the October 7th Hamas attack introduced an array of unprecedented challenges. These challenges stemmed from a paucity of existing literature and protocols, lack of information regarding captivity conditions, and variability in hostage characteristics and circumstances. Objective: To describe the rapid development, implementation and evaluation of the Hostage-ReSPOND protocol, a comprehensive trauma-informed procedure for the care of hostages, including young children, their caregivers and families, immediately following their release from prolonged captivity. Methods: A multidisciplinary expert focus group conducted a comprehensive literature review to develop the ReSPOND protocol, consisting of: Readiness of teams via multifaceted trainings, utilizing live simulations and video debriefings; Specialized professional teams experienced in providing holistic trauma-informed care; Personalized care tailored to individualized and developmentally-informed needs; Optimal safety rooted in creating a secure environment and trauma-informed response to young children, adolescents, caregivers and families; and Navigating Discharge, through coordination with community-based care systems. Results: A designated facility at the Children’s hospital was carefully prepared for receiving 29 hostages, aged 3.9–80 years, 28% under the age of 18. Implementation of the ReSPOND protocol, which prioritized holistic psychosocial interventions above urgent medical care, proved feasible and effective in managing the diverse and complex needs of returnees as per provider report. Finally, systemic assessment of returnee’s immediate and long-term mental health needs proved highly challenging. Conclusions: There is currently no literature addressing the response to released hostages, especially those involving infants, young children and families within a children’s hospital facility. This study has the potential to fill a crucial gap in knowledge by introducing a novel protocol which could offer valuable insights for public health organizations tasked with providing acute care to diverse individuals and families experiencing extreme, multi-layered mass traumatization.

Original languageEnglish
Article number76
JournalChild and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - 20 Jun 2024

Bibliographical note

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© The Author(s) 2024.


  • Acute response
  • Acute trauma protocol
  • Child abduction
  • Childhood trauma
  • Hospital disaster response
  • Hostages
  • Multilayered trauma
  • Parent trauma
  • Trauma


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