The Camp That Will Have Its Participants Saving Lives

A new summer program for Jewish teens from the U.S. and Canada is kicking off in Israel this summer that will combine spirituality, touring and intensive EMS training offering the participants the opportunity to view Israel from a completely new perspective, one that is not offered on any other touring program.

 

The project, which is open for teenagers aged 15-18 is called Rescue Israel and is being run by NCSY in conjunction with United Hatzalah. It is offering the youth of North America the chance to make a difference and train them how to save lives while they tour the country and explore the challenges faced by EMS teams in a variety of terrains.

“We’re getting teens to step outside their comfort zone,” said Shai Jaskoll United Hatzalah’s Vice President of  Development in Israel. “This isn’t just another summer trip. This program will give the participants skills and tools needed to be a first responder. That is something that they can’t find anywhere else,” Jaskoll added. “The point is that we want the participants to challenge themselves and learn about providing medical first aid response and then take what they learn back home with them and continue their training. Perhaps they may even save a life or two on the way.”

Participants in the program will learn CPR and bleeding control and will be able to use these skills in the future. They will get to volunteer on an ambulance and help in United Hatzalah’s state-of-the-art dispatch center located at the national headquarter’s in Jerusalem. Heading up north, the group will join the EMS team in the Kineret and ride along with United Hatzalah’s state-of-the-art water rescue vehicles. In the south, they will learn the dangers and challenges posed to EMS teams by the Negev desert and will experience rescue training that involves a combination of off-road driving in jeeps, special sand vehicles and repelling off cliffs to reach patients stuck in wadis and ravines that pockmark the area around the Dead Sea.

 

“We are looking for participants who want to make an impact through their willingness to give back while touring and experiencing the land like never before,” said Jaskoll. “If you’re looking for a fun tourist style summer program than this isn’t the one for you. If you are looking to get your hands dirty, train daily, learn EMS skills and give back while you are here, then this program is the place that you want to be. This trip is a chance to experience Israel through the eyes of those who keep it safe.”

For more information, email rescueisrael@ncsy.org. Registration is available at summer.ncsy.org

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An Odd Night At a Military Checkpoint

Yossi Rosen in a United Hatzalah volunteer who lives in Peduel, a small town located in Samaria. One Saturday night at 4:00 am, he was awakened by his United Hatzalah radio that announced that there was a medical emergency in his area. “Child, head wound, Deir Balut junction checkpoint,” said the dispatcher on the radio.

Yossi Rosen

Due to his proximity to the incident, Rosen immediately jumped out of bed, radioing back that he was on the way and asking if there would be a military backup (since the junction could be a likely spot for terror attacks). The United Hatzalah dispatcher informed him that in fact, it was the IDF soldiers at the checkpoint who had called for help. Following the confirmation that the scene was safe Rosen quickly raced off to aid the child in need of help.

When he got to the scene Rosen saw a Muslim couple with their 5-year-old son who were standing at the checkpoint. Rosen approached and found that the frightened child had sustained a head injury. The injury had already stopped bleeding and after taking vitals and performing a quick but thorough examination, the experienced medic saw that the child was okay.

Rosen turned to the parents to try and clarify how the child had suffered the head injury. Communication was difficult since the couple’s Hebrew was extremely limited. One of the IDF soldiers knew basic Arabic and after a few misunderstandings, Rosen gleaned that the child had suddenly started convulsing wildly and fallen off of his bed. Rosen spent some time (with the help of the obliging soldier) explaining to the parents that child convulsions should not be taken lightly and then explained how to deal with child seizures. Of course, he also strongly recommended that the child should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible.

The little boy was still scared and bewildered. Remembering that he had a candy in his pocket from an aufruf that Shabbat, Rosen offered the child the candy to help him relax. The father asked Yossi why he had a candy on him at this time of night, and Yossi found himself explaining the custom of throwing candies at a chatan after the reading of the Torah… The family then proceeded to ask what a Torah Scroll was. The situation became continuously more surreal as Rosen found himself explaining various Jewish concepts one after another to the curious Muslim couple at an IDF checkpoint at 4:30 on Saturday morning.

Rosen returned home bemused and gratified that he had been able to help the couple and the little boy. “As a United Hatzalah volunteer, we are trained to recognize the value in every person’s life no matter who they are. I was just happy that I was able to help this child and his family. Trading cultural information afterward and learning one from another, that was just an extra bonus that happens too infrequently here in the Middle East,” Rosen concluded.

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New Group Of Bedouin Women Become EMTs In Israel’s Galilee

A new team of 13 Bedouin women and four men from the Arab towns of Shibli and Umm al-Ghanam have just completed their training to become EMS first responders and respond to medical emergencies in their vicinity. The new graduates will volunteer as medical first responders in their hometown and vicinity with the national EMS volunteer organization United Hatzalah.

The newly trained Bedouin volunteers perform CPR on a training mannequin (Photo: Moshe Biton- United Hatzalah)

“The new group of volunteers are very close-knit and very excited to learn these new skills and be able to provide EMS services in their communities,” said EMS instructor Samara Allah the United Hatzalah instructor who taught the group of new EMTs. “The women in the group are especially excited as it allows them to help those in need around them, something which they all have a strong desire to do”

United Hatzalah Founder and President expressed his appreciation for the new volunteers. “One of the main reasons why we felt that this project was important is because the women who make up the crux of this course often stay at home or work in their towns during the day, much more than the men do. Thus these new volunteers will be able to provide an emergency medical response in their towns during the daytime hours something which has been lacking thus far. They will provide EMS services in their own towns of Shibli and Umm al-Ghanam as well as the Arab and Jewish towns in the vicinity, including Kfar Tavor and Ein Dor.”

The newly trained Bedouin volunteers perform CPR on a training mannequin (Photo: Moshe Biton- United Hatzalah)

Beer continued to say: “We are working to increase the number of volunteers in the Galilee and Israel’s periphery in an effort to reduce EMS response times across the area and especially in outlying Bedouin villages that often have long waits for ambulances. It is important to us to provide fast and professional emergency medical response to all of Israel’s citizens, regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity or gender.”

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Newly Placed Equipment In Mall Aids In Saving The Life Of Man Who Collapsed In Mevaseret On Saturday

As part of their mission to further develop life-saving operations in the Mevaseret Zion region, local United Hatzalah volunteers entered into negotiations with the Rami Levy mall in Mevaseret to set up a first aid cabinet complete with an EMT bag and a defibrillator. As part of the negotiations, the mall asked that we throw in the cabinet to house the first aid items at no extra charge.

EMS volunteers treat collapsed man in Mevaseret Mall on Saturday

On Saturday night, the new kit was put into use for the first time as a 60-year-old man collapsed in the mall. The first responder on the scene was a United Hatzalah trainee who happened to be in the mall at the time of the emergency and was dispatched to the scene by United Hatzalah’s dispatch and command center in Jerusalem. The volunteer arrived in less than 60 seconds. He received the medic kit and defibrillator from the security guards of the mall who were instructed in the event of an emergency to open the first aid cabinet and rush the kit and defibrillator to the scene.

The trainee began CPR and attached the defibrillator which recommended an electric shock. The shock was given and the person’s pulse returned. Other volunteer first responders who were in the area arrived at the scene and began assisting in the advanced treatment of the collapsed man. When the incident was over, the man was sent to the hospital for further treatment and evaluation after regaining full consciousness.

“We’ve been working hard at making sure that the residents of Mevaseret and the surrounding area have the proper medical response in the shortest time possible. This has involved increasing the number of training courses for volunteers, as well as setting up first aid closets in public buildings, such as the one used in the mall,” said Ophir Ben Yitzchak the chapter head of United Hatzalah in the Mevaseret region. “This is another one of those examples where our hard work and forethought paid off and a person’s life was saved as a result. There is no better feeling to an EMS responder then to know that you were instrumental in saving someone’s life. Here the whole team who worked on the agreement with the mall, and the mall’s management also share part of that honor.”

First aid closet located in the mall

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Israeli Dispatch Team Aids Ill Patient in New York in Real Time

“Last Saturday night I was working as the shift manager for United Hatzalah’s dispatch and command center in Jerusalem. One of our dispatchers, Eliezer Taib, received a phone call from a woman who said that her son was in a hospital in New York and was suffering from Pneumothorax. She said that this was the third time that he received this diagnosis and was calling to ask if we knew of anyone with medical experience who could go to him in New York and take a look at him as she felt that the hospital wasn’t doing their job properly.

 

I asked Eliezer to transfer the call to my station. The woman told me that her son was learning in a Yeshiva in Monsey. As I had spent some time in New York I told her that I knew a few paramedics there who might be able to help her. She told me what the name of the hospital was. From my own research, I knew it to be not ranked highly for the care they offer their patients. I called one of my friends and he said he’d find a paramedic to head over there and take a look.

The paramedic responded and said that the hospital was horrible and also reported on the condition of the boy. I thanked him and called my sister who lives in New York to see if she could help organize kosher meals for the boy. She called some friends and found out that no organization that prepares meals for sick patients has ever heard of this hospital. She took it upon herself to find an ambulance that would get the boy transferred to a better hospital, as he needed to undergo surgery to make sure that the problem didn’t come back or God forbid kill him. She found an ambulance that would do the transfer and made sure that the boy’s insurance company would cover the fees for both the transfer and the surgery.

Following their agreement, she sent the boy to Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan and he underwent surgery on Wednesday. Thankfully the surgery was a success and the boy is now recuperating in a much better facility that even offers him kosher food as a meal option.

“This is just one instance that taught me that going the extra mile can make a world of difference for another person. For each and every call that we receive at the dispatch center, we need to go the extra mile for the person on the other side of the call. So thank you to all my fellow dispatchers that evening and the wonderful good-hearted people in New York for helping make this story a success of human character.”

On Thursday I received a letter from the mother of the boy. “Good morning. Thank God and thank you that everything worked out so well. It was like the Entebbe mission. I don’t want to think about what might have happened had my son stayed in that awful hospital or had he not received the surgery he needed. My entire family expresses our most heartfelt gratitude to you and to United Hatzalah for the dedication and devotion that they have for the work of saving lives. You are true angels whose very actions sanctify God’s name publicly.””

            – Yoseph Lieberman

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“Can Someone Watch My Kids So I can Go Save a Life?”

“Can someone come upstairs to watch my kids? I’m a United Hatzalah EMT and that would allow me to come down and treat the people who are hurt.”

 

This is what Shmuel Efergen screamed to the gathered crowd of people below his apartment. The crowd had gathered following a car accident that had occurred just moments prior right below Efergen’s window in Ashdod on Keren Hayesod Street on Sunday.

“I was alone at home with my two children aged two-and-a-half and one-and-a-half. My wife was at work and I was watching them for the day. Just after 6:00 p.m. I received a call from United Hatzalah dispatch center alerting me to a motor vehicle accident on my street. Literally, it occurred below my window. I opened my window and saw the gathered crowd surrounding a pedestrian who was lying on the street. It appeared he had been hit by a car while crossing the street. People were trying to talk to him.”

“Without thinking twice I screamed to the people on the street and asked if someone could come up and watch my kids while I run down to help. One of my neighbors came up to watch my kids. I gave him two treats, one for each child so that they wouldn’t be scared of him. I then ran down the stairs with my medical equipment in tow and began to treat the injured pedestrian. I stayed with him until the ambulance was able to arrive to transport him to the hospital.”

 

Efergen added that: “It is always good to know that there are kind people in this world who understand the importance of what we do and who would come upstairs to watch my children thus allowing me the ability to treat this injured pedestrian with peace of mind. Luckily the pedestrian was only lightly injured and would make a full recovery.   

 

Shmuel is one of 4,000 volunteers who form a nationwide network of EMS coverage and drop whatever they are doing to help others in an emergency.  

 

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From The Brink of Death to Tears of Joy – United Hatzalah volunteers Re-Meet Patient Whose Life They Saved

On Saturday two weeks ago, United Hatzalah volunteer paramedic Miri Shvimmer together with four volunteer EMTs, Benny Mizrachi, Rachamim Gilboa, Yaakov Yazdi  and Lior Eskenasy were each going about their regular Saturday schedules when an emergency alert from United Hatzalah dispatch center shattered the tranquility of the day. “Holon, HaGra Street, 53-year-old is unconscious,” said the dispatcher on the local radio channel alerting them to the emergency.

The volunteers, who are veterans at dropping whatever it is that they are doing to respond to medical emergencies, grabbed their helmets, jumped on their ambucycles and raced to the location of the emergency.

 

In less than 60 seconds, Benny and Rachamim arrived and began checking the patient’s vital signs only to see that the man was not only unconscious but was also not breathing. They immediately began CPR treatment and attached a defibrillator. The device suggested the administering of an electric shock. The volunteers gave the shock and then continued CPR. At this point, Shvimmer, Eskenasy and Yazdi entered the apartment and joined the CPR efforts. The patient received another six shocks from the defibrillator as well as medical intervention administered by Shvimmer.

Miraculously, the man’s heart started pumping once more and he began breathing on his own. After the patient was transported to the hospital in an intensive care ambulance, the United Hatzalah volunteers wished the family and each other well and went back to their own affairs and schedules. But for these EMS heroes, the story was not over.

Last Friday afternoon, the group of volunteers gathered together once more to pay a visit to the man whose life they had saved. The patient, Edward, together with his family, gladly met with the volunteers who responded and successfully saved Edward’s life.

Edward thanked the volunteers profusely for their intervention and the volunteers themselves began to cry tears of joy at seeing Edward in such good condition. “Saving someone’s life without any neurological damage, especially after they are clinically dead is a highly rare occurrence, one that is all to infrequent in pre-hospital care,” said Shvimmer. “All of us who arrived that day are simply overwhelmed with joy and pride that we were able to help Edward. All of the volunteers who arrived, both from United Hatzalah as well as the ambulance service, worked together in perfect unison in order to help save Edward’s life. Thankfully our efforts paid off.”

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Bridging the Generation Gap in The Druze Community – A Model for Israeli Society

“I believe that one of the challenges facing Israeli today is a lack of connection and understanding between our youth and the golden-years generation.” So said Yasmin Kara, the Spokesperson for the Druze Division of The General Federation of Working and Studying Youth in Israel (NOAL). Kara hails from Daliyat al-Carmel and has just instituted a program that she sees as bridging this gap and helping connect these two isolated social groupings.

 

The project which is run by NOAL in conjunction with United Hatzalah, has just graduated its first group of teenage Druze volunteers who will now participate in the country-wide Ten Kavod project. The Ten Kavod project, run by United Hatzalah, trains volunteers to be medical first responders at the level of EMR and pairs them up with an elderly citizen in their community whom they visit once a week. The volunteer is tasked with providing a basic medical check-up for their elderly partner as well as some much needed social interaction. The golden-age patient and the younger volunteer often form bonds of friendship that create a relationship that both benefit from. Should the volunteer recognize a problem in the physical or mental status of the patient, they are trained to contact the patient’s doctor and family members as well as provide immediate basic life-saving treatments in cases emergencies.

The 25 Druze teenagers who are currently enlisted in their post-high-school national service program in the Druze community graduated the course on Sunday as part of their service. The course that was offered to the Druze communities across the Carmel region was sponsored by the Daliyat al-Carmel Rotary Club.

This project worked in a format that was specially designed to answer the needs of the Druze community. “Our national service volunteers as well as those who defer their IDF service in order to work in the community for a year or two in Daliyat al-Carmel, wanted to take part in the EMR course and help out in the community,” said Kara. “However, they did not have enough people in Daliyat al-Carmel alone to open the specialized course. So we expanded the course to other Druze communities in the Carmel region as well. Now we have 25 newly trained young members of our community who will strengthen their ties with the older generation and that is a great start.”

Kara said she is working to expand the project and bring it to other Druze communities throughout Israel’s north. “We hope to expand the project in the Druze communities in the Carmel region, as well as other regions such as the Galilee and the Golan.”

 

When asked why she, as a youth group leader felt so strongly about this project Kara said: “The Ten Kavod project really strengthens our youth. It gives them the tools that they need to develop as conscientious members of our community as well as an understanding of communal responsibility. It is incredibly important for us as a community to help develop these tools in our youth and provide these services for the elderly. It solidifies us as a community and bridges the gap between our youth and our golden-aged citizens. It is a two-month course that will have a tremendous effect for years to come and it is something that should be taking place everywhere in Israel,” she concluded.

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United Hatzalah Inaugurates New Team of Responders in Mount Hevron Region

Following our recent promise to increase the level of response in Judea and Samaria, United Hatzalah inaugurated a new team of volunteer first responders in the Mount Hevron region on Thursday. The new team of 24 medical volunteers is comprised of medical students, EMTs, paramedics, nurses and doctors who will provide emergency medical services for all Israeli citizens covering the geographic area between the cities of Hevron and Be’er Sheva.

“This area is particularly in need of more first responders who are equipped with medical gear,” said United Hatzalah’s volunteer coordinator Ariel Ben David. “There are towns in the region whose closest defibrillator is more than a 15-minute drive away in the next town over. That is an unacceptable statistic when we need to save someone’s life in just a few seconds,” he added.

The Mount Hevron region is one of the areas that United Hatzalah has been looking to equip with properly trained volunteers and a full range of medical equipment for some time. Following the inauguration ceremony, the organization’s Founder and President Eli Beer said: “Our new volunteers in the area will have the arduous task of providing first response medical treatment to any and all citizens regardless of religion, race or gender, as fast as they can. We are expanding our activities in Judea and Samaria in order to provide better coverage and cut down emergency response time for the residents who live there.”

 

While the new volunteers received specialized training and a full complement of medical supplies required by a first responder, they are still missing some vital equipment that is particularly needed in their area of operation. “As the area in and around Mount Hevron is quite dangerous with regards to car accidents, stone throwing, and terror attacks, to operate safely, each of our volunteers requires a protective helmet and bullet-proof vest. In addition to these items, we are also aiming to equip each and every one of the new volunteers with a defibrillator to help raise the chances of survival for cardiac cases in the region and fill the need that exists for these devices. These needs are immediate but still require some financial support in order to be met,” Ben David added.

The Mount Hevron Region’s team is the first of four new teams that the organization hopes to inaugurate in Judea and Samaria the coming months. The other teams are being developed to provide extra support for the Samaria and Binyamin regions as well as the expanding city and of Ma’aleh Adumim, located just east of Jerusalem. In 2017, the organization added some 116 first responders and 24 emergency vehicles to Judea and Samaria, an increase of more than 25 percent to the existing manpower that was present in the region previously.

The newest EMS volunteer couple from Har Hevron

“We are committed to providing first-rate emergency services to the people of Judea and Samaria, just like we are committed to providing those services to the rest of Israel’s population. Our volunteers often help and treat Palestinians who require medical aid in area C as well as Israelis and we work hand-in-hand with both the Red Crescent as well as other local and regional ambulance and first response services in the area. We are continuing to build up our presence in these areas so that we can hit our goal of providing EMS response in less than three minutes to the residents of Judea and Samaria like we do for the rest of the country. No one deserves to suffer or God forbid die when that death or suffering could have been prevented by a quick medical response. That is and always has been our goal, and we will continue to do whatever we can in order to achieve it,” Beer concluded.

To support the work of United Hatzalah and this new team please click here:

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The Park Bench Shift That Saved A Baby’s Life

About three weeks ago, Moshe Dahan was visiting a close friend and fellow ambucycle medic in Modi’in. The pair were chatting in a local park when they received an urgent alert from United Hatzalah Command Center notifying them that a baby girl was choking a few blocks away. With no time to lose, the duo immediately jumped up, hopped on their ambucycles and zoomed over to the nearby location. They arrived on scene within just 60 seconds of receiving the call!

The worried father, who was clutching his 10-month-old daughter in his arms, saw the United Hatzalah medics approaching and began racing towards them, crying and shouting for help. The little girl’s complexion had turned bluish as she struggled to breathe. Moshe quickly took the infant, turned her face down, and administered measured back blows. The baby spewed out some liquids and seemed to breathe easier. Moshe repeated the procedure and this time the child discharged a thick stream of fluids, clearing her airway.   

The careful medic suctioned out any remaining fluids and informed the father that his child was out of danger. The young father was still overcome with panic from the frightening incident; Moshe and his colleague focused on calming and reassuring the anxious man. Taking his vital signs, they detected irregularities in his blood sugar levels due to the overwhelming stress. Moshe spoke softly with the worried father, offering a sugary drink together with an extra dose of warmth and empathy.

When the Mobile Intensive Care Unit (MICU) arrived on scene just 3 minutes later, the ambulance driver was literally amazed “How did you get here so quickly?!” he said. All that remained was to transport the little girl and her father to the hospital for further observation and care. After helping the ambulance team load up the patients, Moshe and his friend headed back to their park bench to continue, what they hoped would be a quiet evening.

“This is what we call a park bench shift or Safsal in Hebrew. When two or more volunteers get together to buff calls and respond to any emergencies in their vicinity in teams,” Dahan said. “You get to hang out with good friends, build rapport with fellow EMS personnel, share stories, help educate one another with life-saving techniques and discuss the proper procedures for patients all while having some snacks of a soda. It is something that has become somewhat of a custom shared by all volunteer EMS personnel throughout Israel. This instance was a classic example of a Mishmeret Safsal. We thankfully don’t have that many calls in Hashmonaim, so I come to visit my friend in Modi’in and we save lives together. It works out great for us, but better for the patients who receive help from alert volunteers who come together to help in an emergency situation. It is one of the best traditions of EMTs in Israel.”

Scene of choking in Modi’in

“The idea of a Mishmeret Safsal began when Elad Nissinholtz met up with another volunteer EMT and did exactly this in Tel Aviv nine years ago,” said Raphael Poch International Media Spokesperson for United Hatzalah and a volunteer EMT with the organization.

“I used to head out to Tel Aviv whenever I had free time,” explained Nissinholtz in a special interview to describe what a Mishmeret Safsal meant. “I picked a strategic spot in the city where I could respond to as wide an area as possible and I got together with another responder to buff calls while sitting on a park bench. Whenever we got a call, we raced over and provided treatment. When the call was over we headed back to our bench, which was near an all-night snack store. We ate a bit to stay focused and energized, got to know each other better, sometimes we even learned Torah while waiting for the next call.”  

A park bench with medical equipment

“While the original Safsal took place nine years ago, it is something that many of our volunteers still do today. Because the volunteers are at the ready at any moment, they arrive at emergencies extremely quickly and are able to save more lives, just like Dahan did in Modi’in.”

 

Nissinholtz explained another positive aspect of this style of EMS response. “Another positive outcome from this type of volunteer shift work is that it leads to a lot of experiences being shared between old and new volunteers, thereby helping to continue the on-scene training of the new volunteers who can gain from the experience of their more seasoned fellows. The volunteers can also ask questions from one another and learn what to do differently in scenes just like the one they came back from. It is a way of passing knowledge and tradition from one generation of volunteers to another all while enjoying some friendly company and saving lives.”

“I’m not as young as I used to be,” said Nissinholtz, “so I only head out about once in 10 days to do a Mishmeret Safsal. But there is a new generation now and they want to go out and help people, so that is a way in which they can set aside a few hours to do a sort-of-shift as volunteers. Ambulance shifts involve a lot of bureaucracy and paperwork and often require a lot more transporting than treating in the field. They also force a person to be on the shift for eight hours at a time. When doing a Mishmeret Safsal, the volunteers head out simply to help and treat other people and they can set whatever hours are convenient for them. The paperwork is minimal and can now be done via a specialized app on a smartphone later rather than requiring the forms to be filled out immediately. This frees up the volunteers to go on a lot more calls and treat more people, thereby gaining more experience in a shift. Having done many of both types, I can honestly say that there are definitely times that I much prefer a Mishmeret Safsal. It is a great tool and one that I am happy to have initiated,” said Nissinholtz.   

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