34 New Charedi Women To Serve Their Communities As First Responders

34 Charedi Women graduated a United Hatzalah EMT course on Thursday, joining the Women’s Unit of the organization. The newly trained EMTs will be tasked with providing emergency medical care as first responders to women in the Charedi communities of Jerusalem and the surrounding area.

Photo from Thursday’s graduation – Credit Shira Hershkopf/United Hatzalah

Director of United Hatzalah’s Women’s Unit Gitty Beer said: “This amazing group of 34 women that graduated on Thursday evening will be responding to all types of emergency medical calls, but their primary task will be providing the much-needed response to particularly delicate calls in which women are involved and providing an extra element of care to an already traumatic medical emergency. We’ve found that having women respond to help other women allows the patients to feel more comfortable and gives them a greater sense of ease during their medical ordeal. The patient feels more comfortable and feels that the EMT understands her a little better if she has a woman treating her.”

Beer, who has been running United Hatzalah’s Women’s Unit for almost two years now added: “This idea of the comfort of the patient is something that holds especially true within the Charedi community.”

Currently the Women’s Unit numbers some 150 volunteers who serve in the communities of Jerusalem, Beitar Illit, Beit Shemesh, Modi’in Illit and Bnei Brak. The Unit is looking to expand to other communities in which this extra level of sensitivity is requested by the community.

Photo from Women’s Unit Drill

Ephraim Feldman, the Chapter Head of United Hatzalah in Bnei Brak spoke about the Unit’s effectiveness in his city. “We have members of the organization’s Women’s Unit here who respond to emergencies when other women in the community are suffering. Medical emergencies in our community are very sensitive and people do not want to broadcast that it is happening. Therefore, members from this unit often respond to emergencies without lights and sirens, and even without wearing vests outside in the streets. They arrive, take their medical kits with them and treat the patient with the highest level of care both for the patient’s medical condition as well as their privacy,” he said.

Feldman added that the project has met with general approval from even the most religious sectors: “The Rabbis of the city are very much in favor of this project and the Women’s Unit in general and how effective it is at protecting the privacy of the patients.”

Overall, United Hatzalah has close to 500 female volunteers in various projects spread throughout the country. The Women’s Unit forms one of those projects and is run specifically in cities with a large Charedi population.

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How Israeli Innovation Is Changing the World

Avi Jorisch is the author of the newly published “Thou Shalt Innovate: How Israeli Ingenuity Repairs the World,” which presents 15 stories showing how Israelis of different religions are “making life better for billions of people around the world” and “helping to feed the hungry, cure the sick and provide shelter for the homeless.”

Avi Jorisch

Jorisch chose these 15 stories because they display a mix of innovations in medicine, high-tech, low-tech, water consumption and agriculture, all of which affect people everywhere. Because there are so many innovations in Israel, he found it difficult to choose, so he included Israel’s 50 greatest contributions to the world in an appendix. Even that, however, didn’t fully capture Israel’s impact. “I could have easily kept going,” he notes, but he chose to highlight the 15 stories because “they spoke to me in a moving and definitive way” and were “rays of light.”  

Jorisch placed United Hatzalah first in the book because it “humanizes Israel in a very deep way, and therefore sets the tone for the entire book.” He loves the organization “because it is not a Jewish organization, or a Christian or Muslim organization,” but “a lifesaving organization. He adds: “I am in awe of the lifesaving army that United Hatzalah has created” using “a highly advanced geospatial phone application that calls on trained medical personnel to respond to medical emergencies in their vicinity.” This app, along with the ambulance-motorcycle hybrid known as the ambucycle, gets first responders to “medical emergencies quickly, thereby cutting down response times and helping save lives.”

According to Jorisch, “When people think about the Middle East, they often think about conflict and terrorism. Most people aren’t even aware of United Hatzalah, or that it is marshaling human resources and technology to save lives.” The volunteers — Jewish, Christian or Muslim — “rush to other people’s aid and treat them like their own mothers and fathers.”

Jorisch quipped that “my own children have told me many times that want to ride ambucycles, and they are five and seven years old.”

When asked why he believes Israel has had such an impact in creating innovations that solve some of the world’s most challenging problems, Jorisch replied: “For 3,000 years, the children of Israel have repeated on a daily basis their desire to feed the hungry, cure the sick, provide shelter for the homeless and repair the world. We believe we have a partnership with God and have a responsibility to spread morality and social justice. All of this has deeply impacted the cultural DNA of Jewish people and the State of Israel. We aren’t a nation of saints — but we have been seeking higher meaning for the last three millennia.”

Thou Shalt Innovate: Cover Photo

When asked why he wrote the book, Jorisch responded by saying: “There is no single narrative that defines the Jewish people, but there is no denying that the country has extraordinary innovators who are bound together not by religion, stature or money, but by a desire to make the world a better place and save lives. I feel this is an often-neglected part of the Israeli story that I wanted others to see.”

Jorisch began working on his book shortly after Operation Protective Edge in 2014 when he and his family were going into and out of bomb shelters. “My family, like the rest of Israel, took great comfort in the Iron Dome,” says Jorisch, “but I also learned that it wasn’t the only lifesaving innovation that Israel has created, and I knew I needed to write about the others. Israeli innovations are positively impacting the lives of billions of people around the world.”

Jorisch expressed real hope for Israel’s future and its role in a resource-starved planet. “Take, for example, Egypt and Iran, both of which are about to experience severe water shortages in the next few decades. Do you think that these countries will choose not to turn towards the one country in the world that has declared a water independence from the weather and its neighbors? And it doesn’t end there. Israel has solutions when it comes to agricultural, medical and defense challenges that will continue to afflict planet earth in the years to come.”

“Thou Shalt Innovate” can be purchased on Amazon, and starting at the end of the month, it will also be available at Steimatzky’s bookstores in Israel.

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The Greatest Way To Honor and Enjoy Shabbat – Save Someone Who Can Honor it And Enjoy It Also

On a recent Friday afternoon, a 90-year-old woman was preparing for Shabbat when the contents of one of the pots on the stove caught fire. Smoke quickly filled the apartment and the woman, due to her limited mobility, was unable to escape. She urgently called for help.

Yisrael Chanukah

Yisrael Chanukah, a United Hatzalah volunteer EMT, who is a husband and father of four, was also preparing for Shabbat when the emergency call came in from United Hatzalah’s Dispatch and Command Center. He immediately dropped what he was doing, dashed outside to his ambucycle, and raced to the apartment in 60 seconds.

Chanukah could see accumulating smoke through the window and heard a cry for help. He sprinted into the building and found the elderly woman breathing heavily. He quickly assisted her out of the building and assessed the older woman who assured him he was fine.

Once the elderly woman was out of the building, Chanukah realized that there were only seconds until the fire spread from the pot to the rest of the apartment. He sprinted back inside and ran out seconds later with the pot, placing it on the ground where it posed no danger.

Chanukah then approached the elderly woman to treat her minor injuries. Meanwhile, the fire department had arrived and began using large fans to ventilate the apartment to remove the smoke and make the air inside breathable once again.

In spite of his Shabbat preparations waiting at home, Chanukah stayed with the older woman for an hour. Kind neighbors arrived and offered the woman food and necessary items for Shabbat. The fire chief then approached and explained that soon it would be safe to return. As the woman was stabilized, caring neighbors were nearby and the situation was under control, Chanukah finally allowed himself to finally go home.


“When it comes to saving lives, it doesn’t matter what it happening around me. I drop everything and rush to offer whatever assistance I can. When I helped the elderly woman, to me that was the greatest way that I could possibly honor and enjoy Shabbat, by making sure that another person was alive and well to honor and celebrate theirs,” said Chanukah.

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Training Them To Respond

Avi Marcus is married with five children and lives in Petach Tikva, a city located to the northwest of Tel Aviv. He is the Chief Paramedic for United Hatzalah, Israel’s national volunteer community-based EMS services organization. One of the main parts of Marcus’s job is to oversee the quality of medical care given by the more than 4,000 volunteers across the organization. He can’t be everywhere at once, so he oversees some 25 regional paramedics each of whom is responsible to supervise and maintain the high level of quality care given by the volunteers across the country.

Avi Marcus

In addition, Marcus is tasked with making sure that all of the new EMS trainees are trained to the highest medical standards that they can be. “I not only oversee all of the training courses across the country, of which there are currently 53 in session, but I also teach parts of them myself to provide an extra emphasis on certain things that I know many times volunteers in the field forget – small pointers that can save lives,” Marcus said.


On top of that, he is also a volunteer emergency first responder. “The system in Israel works differently than it does in North America or England. In our organization, all 4,000 volunteers across the country are always on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. An emergency call can come at any time – while a person is working, while they are relaxing at home, while they are bathing their kids, or sitting down at the dinner table. Often, these calls come while one is traveling on the roads. In my case, they constantly occur when I am driving from meeting to meeting or training session to training session. I travel a lot and put a lot of mileage on my car as I use it to go out and visit volunteers all over the country and join them on training calls to observe the level of their knowledge and check that all of their equipment is in order. These are surprise visits in order to encourage our volunteers to maintain their high levels of training and efficiency,” Marcus added.  

Marcus leading a collaborative training session between United Hatzalah volunteers and the Fire Department

From the newest trainee to the President of the organization, all of the members of United Hatzalah answer the call and it is Marcus’s job to make sure the level of care that they provide is the best it can be.


Each year the organization runs mandatory refresher courses that Marcus is in charge of. These courses aim at placing an operational emphasis on specific topics which field reports have shown need to be addressed. “Last year the topics addressed were how to best take an oral history, approaching a patient and equipment retraining. This year the focus will be more on birthing, managing a scene and how to operate within a group of first responders. An emphasis will also be placed on utilizing the intervention of the Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit as this too is an area that we felt is important to bring awareness to,” Marcus added.  


Last year Marcus performed more than 1,000 incident checks in the field. In order to achieve this, he traveled more than 40,000 miles back and forth across the country. While performing these spot checks Marcus also answers emergencies often taking trainees with him in order to continue their on-scene incident training.

Marcus recalled two incidents that continue to drive him and help give him the push he needs to pound the pavement and go on call after call. “I was on my way home from a training session a few months ago and there was an emergency nearby. I was alerted by the organization’s phone application and radio dispatch. I arrived at the location of the incident in less than 60 seconds. The call came in as a seizure, however, when I arrived I saw that the person was unconscious and gasping. The situation required full CPR so I immediately alerted the dispatch center, attached a defibrillator, and gave the man medication as more volunteers joined me. The nearest ambulance was 10 minutes out. So we were alone performing CPR on this man who had collapsed while working out at a gym. Thankfully the CPR was successful and the person is alive and well today. This was a clear message to me that what I am doing, and the equipment I have, makes a difference and saves lives,” Marcus said.


In a second story, Marcus related what hit him close to home and stayed with him throughout his years as a first responder. “It was the first call that I ever went on as a United Hatzalah volunteer and it took place a number of years ago. There was a young girl who was unconscious at home. I arrived in almost no time and performed a full CPR on her. Thankfully it was a successful CPR. What really made this incident real for me, was that I have a daughter who is the exact same age as this girl. I kept thinking to myself how this could have been her. With every patient I treat, part of me thinks about the family and friends of this person who is receiving my help and I devote everything I have to saving that person and helping not only them, but their friends, families, and loved ones. It is something I teach my students to think about as well.”


Thankfully that young girl is alive and well today as are many others who owe their lives to the hard work of our volunteers and people like Avi Marcus who give of themselves continually to make sure that each and every one of the more than 4,000 volunteers across the country are performing their EMS duties with incredible care and professionalism.


“The network of volunteers that we have saves lives. It is as simple as that. In a country where we place a volunteer on each street corner and in every community, a volunteer who knows how to save lives and has the equipment they need to do so, that is a country that will succeed in saving as many people as possible. That is our goal and I personally believe that it is a must for any city or country that values the lives of its citizens. Our volunteers know the community in which they live, they know where people are located and this enables them to cut down immensely on EMS response time as people don’t have to wait for ambulances to begin receiving care. In the time it takes an ambulance to arrive we already there saving lives,” Marcus declared.  


On a personal note, Marcus also said that his volunteering and work has had a positive impact on his family. “My son is now an EMR because he sees his father, a paramedic, rushing out to emergencies and helping people. He wants to be like me and help people and I am encouraging that.”


To support the work of volunteers like Avi Marcus please click here:

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Test Your Car Receive An Act of Loving-kindness

On Thursday, after taking his vehicle in for its annual test in Rehovot, Amir Tzabari, a United Hatzalah volunteer EMT, received a heartwarming surprise. Just after he exited the center having finished his test, a passerby asked him to wait a few moments before continuing on his way. He was taken completely by surprise at what happened next.


The woman who made the request told Tzabari that she had seen his United Hatzalah vest through his car window and therefore requested for him to wait a few moments until she returned. “While the request struck me as being a bit odd, the woman seemed sincere and I thought perhaps she needed my help with something so I waited for her,” Tzabari said.

Tzabari holding the Mishloach Manot he received from the passerby

Volunteers like Tzabari are used to people asking them for help with medical conditions. However, when the woman returned she did not ask for medical assistance or advice, rather she presented Tzabari with a gift of Mishloach Manot for the upcoming holiday of Purim. The woman told Tzabari that the gift was on behalf of the non-profit organization that she worked for which is Tza’adim Ketanim or Little Steps. The organization helps those who suffer from muscular dystrophy and often, many of their patients are assisted by volunteers from United Hatzalah.

Upon seeing the vest the woman felt it was only fitting to give something back to the volunteers who help her patients so much.

If that wasn’t reason enough, the woman said that one of her family members is alive today because a United Hatzalah volunteer had saved their life. “The woman told me the story of her relative who had suffered a heart attack. She said that the first people at the scene, who arrived very fast, were United Hatzalah volunteers. She explained that the volunteers began CPR and that her relative woke up after nearly a month of living on a respirator. Thankfully, she said that her relative is leading a normal life now without the need for any further medical assistance.”


Tzabari was really taken aback by the whole episode. “This woman succeeded in really touching me on a spiritual level. This small gesture was something tremendous. I wish to thank all of my fellow volunteers for giving of themselves on a daily basis to respond to emergencies and helping others. It is these acts that are changing the face of Israel for the better every single day. I am proud to be a member of this network of upstanding volunteers.”


To support the work of volunteers like Amir Tzabari please click here:

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Send in the Clowns

“One of the more interesting things about being a volunteer first responder is that you never know when or in what situation you will be when you will receive an emergency call. Whenever that call comes, you drop everything and rush out. Naturally, sometimes it can catch you at moments that are less than convenient.

My name is Yishai David Turgeman and I am United Hatzalah volunteer first responder. Last Friday, after volunteering as a medical clown, I was on my way to a wedding and decided to leave my clown costume on as entertainment for the bride and groom. Backtracking a little bit, my sister was killed not so long ago in a car accident, and in her memory, my parents donated money to members of our community to help newly married couples be able to afford weddings. This was one of the weddings that benefited from that donation. So for me and my family, this was already a very special occasion.

Yishai Turgeman after the call

After the wedding, I headed home to my apartment in Tel Aviv and just as I was taking off the costume, the United Hatzalah emergency application alerted me to a car accident that had just taken place a few streets away from my apartment. From the information provided, I learned that it was a serious car accident, which is often a matter of life and death.  I didn’t think twice about going. When I was a soldier, we used to call these moments “bowl flippers” the times when even if you are eating you rush out and accidentally flip your bowl over but don’t stop to clean it up, you just keep going.

I ran downstairs and jumped on my ambucycle and raced to the location the accident. I arrived as one of the first responders at the scene. I began treating one of the injured people who was lying in the street and I see that the person is still in the process of understanding what exactly just happened to him. A C-Collar was placed on his neck and he was looking up at the sky. I followed protocol to the letter and began taking an oral history of his injuries. I asked him where it hurt in order to see where his injuries were so that I could begin treatment. When he saw me he smiled and didn’t even ask why I was dressed funny. He just assumed it had something to do with the upcoming Jewish holiday of Purim (which is celebrated all throughout Israel by people wearing costumes and often makeup or masks).

Luckily for me, the holiday was right around the corner, because otherwise, I would be stuck at a large scale trauma scene dressed in sparkles and rouge. Go try explaining that one to the patients or your fellow responders.

I for one am glad that the holiday is so widely celebrated as it didn’t take any time away from providing the much-needed treatment to my patient. On the contrary, it raised the spirits of everyone at the scene. It was so effective even in a trauma scene as scary as a serious car accident, that I am thinking about adopting it permanently.

I wish all of the injured a speedy recovery and a happy and healthy holiday.”

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Kids of EMS Responders Get It Right On Purim

(As Appeared in the Jerusalem Post on February 28th, 2018) 

The idea that people dress up on Purim as something that they hold dear or emulate is not a foreign concept. On the contrary, imitation is the highest form of flattery. This concept is certainly a relief to many parents who volunteer as first responders when their children and many other children in their neighborhoods dress up like them for Purim.

We asked Daniel Katzenstein, an emergency medical technician (EMT) volunteer with United Hatzalah for many years, about the price that children of medics pay due to witnessing their parent heading into emergency situations – or sometimes even being dragged along with them on calls due to necessity.

“I don’t know what the answer to that question is and I’m not sure there is a way to tell. What I do know is that when I asked my kid what he wanted to dress up as for Purim and he said ‘a United Hatzalah medic’, I knew that my children were okay.”

Kids dressing up as United Hatzalah volunteers

The question faced by Katzenstein is one that has not yet been dealt with extensively in EMS journals, but it is certainly worthy of consideration, especially working in an organization such as United Hatzalah where all of the EMS workers are volunteers. The volunteers must ask themselves what impact their choice to volunteer will have on their loved ones? Will their loved ones suffer second-sphere trauma due to their proximity to incidents or in helping support their loved one who volunteers?   


While first responders are often resilient and can hopefully sense when they are suffering traumatic effects from their experiences, the question is raised regarding the second sphere effect.

Dr. Francine Roberts, Psy.D a New Jersey-based Licensed Clinical Psychologist who specializes in treating EMS personnel after traumatic incidents spoke about the degree to which volunteer responders need to worry about second sphere effects.


Roberts said: “If the children of a responder are exposed at any level, then the responder or other parent needs to engage the child on the child’s own level and help them understand what happened and why it happened. Then the children have to be given a chance to talk about it. One needs to use terms that are reassuring so that the children can understand and feel safe. They also need to be reassured that their parent is safe.”

Roberts even took a moment to comment on Katzenstein’s story. “Kids dressing up as United Hatzalah volunteers is very similar to kids in the United States dressing up as firefighters or police officers. It doesn’t seem to be a problem, and it is healthy to feel that there are superheroes around.”

Dr. Rickie Rabinowitz is a psychologist and one of the founders of United Hatzalah’s Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit. Regarding the issue of children suffering a second sphere trauma due to parents missing important life events because they were on rescue missions Rabinowitz said that it partially depends on how society looks at the activity. “From a sociological perspective, if what the parent is doing can be a source of pride to the child, then the child will already realize the ethical value of what their parent was doing was more valuable than attending the event. But if the same activity is looked down upon by society, i.e. the parent is a caregiver or rescuer in a wealthy society where having a low-paying job is looked down upon, then the pride will take a longer time to incubate and come to the fore.”


“One of the good things about United Hatzalah,” added Rabinowitz, “is that because the organization is comprised of volunteers, it is pretty much looked upon positively across the board, no matter which sociological or socio-economic grouping the children are coming from. For many, it is even a sense of great pride in their communities”


So how many children dress up as United Hatzalah volunteer first responders? The answer is thousands, and it is a trend that is growing.

Yossi Amar a costume distributor said: “We opened up sales in numerous locations around Israel and we couldn’t believe how many we would sell, in most places they are sold out well before the holiday.”


Amar is usually a medical and health supplies distributor for an organization known as Haderech L’Hatzil Haim (The way to save a life), but when it gets close to the Purim holiday he begins to supply costumes to stores all over the country. “Children are dreaming of becoming  EMT’s, parents call me continuously and want to dress their kids up like this. People are even purchasing real first aid kits to go with the costume and to keep for the house after the holiday so that they have one.”


Amar said that the demand is not limited to the Ultra-Orthodox areas but the demand is highest there. “In areas where kids are not allowed to dress up like soldiers or police officers due to community concerns, one of the prevalent alternatives that they have for costumes of positive role models that give back to the community is a United Hatzalah medic,” Amar added.  

From this standpoint, taking Katzenstein’s barometer to answer the question of whether or not children of first responders are suffering from their proximity to emergencies, one might say that the opposite is true and that most of the children of first responders, as well as those children who see them in action, are proud of their parents and community members who drop everything and rush out to emergencies to help other. Knowing this can help a lot of volunteer first responders rest easy on Purim, even though there are usually three times the amount of emergency calls that come in on Purim than on any other day of the year.

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Win a United Hatzalah jacket with your name on it!

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How To Have a Safe and Happy Purim – Purim Safety Instructions from United Hatzalah

Ahead of the Purim holiday, United Hatzalah of Israel has published a list of health tips and safety regulations to ensure that everyone has a happy and safe Purim. Last year, the organization received nearly 3,000 emergency calls on Purim, which is three times the amount received on a regular day. In order to prevent catastrophes from happening, here is a list of dos and don’ts for the upcoming celebration.



It is best to refrain from making or purchasing costumes that are made from easily combustible materials. In the case of an emergency in which a costume has caught on fire, try to get the person wearing it to lie down and roll the person on the ground in order to put out the flames. You can also use a thick blanket or carpet to suffocate the fire. In any case of conflagration immediately call for help.

Avoid costumes for children that contain small piece such as buttons in order to prevent choking hazards.

Avoid using sharp pins or other sharp objects as part of a costume. All paraphernalia such as swords, scepters etc… should be blunt or made of light plastic. Sharp objects cause injuries to the wearer and those in their vicinity.


Any type of explosive device, caps, flash-bangs etc… contain gunpowder and hence are highly dangerous and illegal in Israel. These types of “toys” can cause severe injuries and burns and it is strongly advised to avoid their use altogether.

Toys with parts that shoot off such as guns, rifles, and even bows and arrows made of plastic can cause injuries and are best to not be given to children.


With regards to choking hazards with babies, it is of the utmost importance not to dress a baby in any costume that has small round parts or any removable parts.

Additionally, receiving candy, gumballs, nuts, almonds or other small foods in mishloach manot can also lead to incidents of choking if young babies or toddlers should eat them. Parents are advised to look through their children’s mishloach manot to make sure that no such foods are eaten by young children. It is also advised not to send such foods to families with small children.

Allergies and burns:

Spray cans that shoot fake snow or body paint are highly flammable and once sprayed on another person can cause that person burns or allergic reactions. It is also advised to check all makeup prior to use to ensure that the wearer will not suffer an allergic reaction to the makeup. One should only use makeup that has received a stamp of approval from the Health Ministry. In the event of a burning sensation or an allergic reaction in the area of the eyes resulting from a spray, one should wash their eyes under running water until the burning sensation passes. If the burning sensation is particularly serious or continues for an elongated period of time, one should seek medical intervention.

In the event of an allergic reaction from makeup, one should remove the makeup immediately. If the reaction is serious and includes such signs as a swelling of the tongue, lips or a difficulty breathing, one should immediately alert emergency services and request assistance as quickly as possible.

The President and Founder of United Hatzalah Eli Beer said: “Every year coming up to Purim, and this year as well, we are investing heavily in a public relations campaign in an attempt to warn the public of the commonplace dangers that exist with regards to costumes, props, explosives, makeup etc… In addition to sending out public service announcements, we also send our volunteers into schools to help educate the teachers as well as the students about some of the pitfalls and common injuries that we see each year. Our hope is to minimize the amount of these injuries by making the public more aware of what to look out for ahead of time. Over the past few years, we have seen a dramatic decrease in the number of injuries sustained due to explosive devices, much of this is due to the extensive public relations campaigns that are being done by United Hatzalah as well as other agencies. Having said that, we raise the alert level of our dispatch and command center as well as our volunteers to its highest in order to be prepared for the volume of calls that come in over the holiday. We wish everyone in Israel a happy and safe Purim this year.”

To support the work of United Hatzalah please click here: 

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Save An Uncle, Save a City – How One Muslim EMT Created a Revolution In His City

For more than sixteen years Marwan Masarwe has worked as an ambulance driver and EMT. He used to go to work, help people while doing his job and then head home. But three years ago his daily routine changed, and so did the level of EMS response in his entire home city of Taibe.

Marwan Masarwe treating an injured person in Taibe

“Three years ago, my uncle suffered a heart attack and collapsed on the floor of his home. My family, who was shocked by what had suddenly happened called an ambulance. They also called me as they know that I have the knowledge of how to help him. I rushed over and arrived in just a few minutes and began treating my uncle. The ambulance took a very long time to arrive. The fact that I had arrived in as short a time as I did, and began treating him, saved his life. This incident is what caused me to realize that I could help save lives when I am home and off-duty as well,” said Masarwe.  


Masarwe put his thought into action and approached United Hatzalah in an effort to open a chapter of volunteer responders in Taibe. He worked with the organization and developed a team of 15 fully trained and equipped responders just about a year later. “I approached people who lived in Taibe and who worked in the EMS field. Some were paramedics, while others were EMTs. When we started, we had 15 volunteers, now, just two years later we have double that number. People used to wait anywhere between 10 to 30 minutes for an ambulance in Taibe. Now, they wait less than three minutes for a volunteer EMT or paramedic to begin administering treatment.”


Masarwe’s rationale was to eradicate the time spent waiting by people waiting for an ambulance to arrive. “If it takes an ambulance a long time to arrive, say 20 minutes or more, than, in most serious cases the patient could, and often does, die while waiting for medical intervention. If we have people from the community who have the training and equipment necessary, then we can intervene and begin treatment while the patient waits for the ambulance team to arrive,” he said.     


Masarwe became the head of the new chapter in Taibe and he and his team of volunteer responders, who are all Muslim, provide treatment for residents of the city as well as the outlying towns, which include numerous Jewish towns as well.


“Lifesaving will always be a part of who I am. Now, I have become prouder of my involvement in the field. I am thankful that United Hatzalah has provided me and my fellow responders with a system that is capable of providing EMS services to anyone, anywhere and at all times.”


Masarwe is one 330 Muslim volunteers with United Hatzalah across Israel who provide free emergency medical services to anyone in need in their vicinity regardless of race, gender or religion.  

To find out how you can support the work of volunteer first responders such as Marwan please click here: 

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