Hundreds of EMTs, dozens of paramedics and doctors, as well as numerous emergency transport vehicles are ready and waiting to be spread across the town of Meron and accompanying hillside ahead of this weekend’s festivities celebrating the 33rd day of the Omer on the Jewish calendar. The yearly holiday is the single largest gathering in Israel each year, and this year’s celebration is expected to see upwards of 300,000 people gather around the grave of Rabbi Simeon Bar Yochai in honor of the day.
United Hatzalah’s EMS teams are tasked with providing on-scene medical services to all of the visitors present. Round-the-clock shifts have been set up in order to ensure safety and treat any injuries that may befall attendees. Heads of the organization have been attending collaborative meetings with other organizations such as the municipal and national government, the police, Fire and Rescue Services and the national ambulance service in order to ensure public safety.
The event is set to begin on Thursday afternoon when many of the pilgrims will make their way to the town for the weekend. Volunteers will stay on site until Monday morning as many celebrants will be staying past the last bonfires lit on Sunday evening.
The operational division of United Hatzalah has already set up its mobile command center which acts as the center of activities during the festival. Volunteers from all over the country who will be taking part in the operation have been assigned to shifts and briefed about special points of interest as well as solutions to issues that have come up during previous years’ celebrations.
The organization’s ambucycle unit will be forming a protective perimeter around the mountain allowing volunteers to provide immediate response to any and all medical emergencies. This includes the various parking lots that have been set up to accommodate visitors and that usually suffer from major traffic congestion. Special ATVs will also be used in transporting volunteers to and from emergencies, and if needed, will carry patients out of a crowded area and bring them to the temporary clinic set up on site by the organization to triage and treat patients requiring immediate response.