United Hatzalah Inaugurates New Ambulance for Psychotrauma Unit and Central Jerusalem

On Friday morning, at the Wolfson buildings on Diskin Street,  United Hatzalah inaugurated a new ambulance. “The new ambulance will be a dual purpose ambulance,” said Miriam Ballin, Director of the organization’s Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit. “The ambulance will be providing EMS services free of charge to the residents of the Sha’arei Chessed and Rechavia neighborhoods in the city as well as providing the Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit with an on-scene command center and clinic during large scale traumatic incidents.”

ELi Pollack, Eli Beer, Rabbi  Israel Braun, Moshe Teitelbaum, and Miriam Ballin stand in front of the new ambulance

ELi Pollack, Eli Beer, Rabbi Israel Braun, Moshe Teitelbaum, and Miriam Ballin stand in front of the new ambulance

Ballin explained the idea behind the location specific EMS activities of the ambulance. “Residents from the neighborhoods of Shaarei Chessed and Rechavia were among those who supported the project and donated a large portion of the funds used to purchase the new vehicle. Thus we are centralizing the ambulance to these neighborhoods to provide heightened coverage for this area” she explained

United Hatzalah ambulances are used primarily to train new EMTs and Paramedics allowing them to get hands-on experience during an ambulance shift in the city. It will provide EMS care by matching newly trained EMS personnel with veteran drivers and EMTs, working together to treat patients in need of urgent and professional community-based response. The vehicle will only respond to emergency calls that come in through the organization’s emergency hotline of 1221, so as not impinge upon the work of any other ambulance service.

Eli Beer speaking at inauguration

Eli Beer speaking at inauguration

“The community felt there was a need for a faster response that is why so many people from the area got behind this project,” said United Hatzalah Founder and President Eli Beer. “We are overjoyed at the support and the initiative of the people of these communities and we are happy to provide this service for them in times of need,” he added.

“When the vehicle is not being used to provide coverage and answer emergency calls, it will serve its second purpose as the organization’s primary Psychotrauma and Crisis Response ambulance,” Ballin explained. “This ambulance is very unique. It can be divided into two separate clinics and has the ability to expand into a localized command center for the unit by opening a tent from its right side.” The ambulance will be equipped with specialized gear that is used to support patients who are psychologically or emotionally injured during a traumatic event or suffering from shock.

“The ambulance is the first of its kind,” said Ballin. “It is also the first time that these neighborhoods will have their own devoted ambulance on call, and that is something that we feel we want to give back to the community that so staunchly supported this project.”

During the inauguration, Ballin especially thanked Harvey Schwartz from the Captain Leo V. Berger Fund as well as the Karfunkel family who donated large sums to support the purchase of the ambulance. She also thanks the Friedman family and Rabbi Israel Braun who helped spearhead the campaign in the Shaarei Chessed community, and her husband Dr. Adam Ballin for his support throughout the campaign.

 

Following speeches by members of the organization’s staff and volunteers, Rabbi Rosenthal, the Rabbi of Shaarei Chessed, honored the gathered crowd by offering words of blessing for the project and for its continued success. The ambulance is expected to begin regular shifts in the center of Jerusalem in the coming weeks.

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EMS Teams Treating Patients, Working Towards Unity

Last night, at 10:45 p.m. a United Hatzalah EMT was driving past the southern gate of Efrat, a Jewish town in Gush Etzion just south of Bethlehem when he noticed a Palestinian vehicle stopped by the side of the road with its blinkers on. He stopped to ask if the occupants needed help and found a man with a completely severed arm waiting for medical assistance to arrive. He alerted emergency responders from the area and requested that an intensive care mobile ambulance (ICU) be sent to the scene. Responders began arriving moments later and working together they began to bandage the patient’s arm. A few moments later the Efrat ICU ambulance arrived and all of the responders worked together flawlessly to staunch the bleeding before transporting the patient to an Israeli hospital in stable condition.

A similar event occurred a few weeks prior. Just before midnight, on Tuesday an emergency call reverberated across the rooms of emergency first responders in Efrat, stating that there was a person suffering severe chest pains at the southern entrance to the city. First responders from United Hatzalah together with the local ICU ambulance team responded to the emergency.  They found a Palestinian resident of Bethlehem who had come to Efrat seeking medical assistance.

Some of the United Hatzalah volunteers from Gush Etzion and their spouses. Among them are volunteers who responded to both incidents at the southern gate of Efrat.

Some of the United Hatzalah volunteers from Gush Etzion and their spouses. Among them are volunteers who responded to both incidents at the southern gate of Efrat.

“These things occur quite frequently in the area of Gush Etzion and other locales of Judea and Samaria,” said a volunteer EMT from United Hatzalah who responded to the scene and wished to remain nameless. “No matter who the patient is, it is our responsibility as first responders to provide treatment as long as it is within our power to do so,” he added.

Raphael Poch, the International Spokesperson for United Hatzalah and a volunteer EMT with the organization was among those who responded to the earlier incident. “The unique aspect of this incident isn’t that we were treating a Palestinian, that happens fairly frequently in Judea and Samaria,” Poch said. “The unusual aspect was the linguistic interactions that took place between the patient and those treating him”.  

The cardiac patient, who had been brought by his personal doctor from Bethlehem, only spoke Arabic, while his doctor spoke Arabic and English. The ambulance personnel, being fairly familiar with treating their Palestinian neighbors from time to time, spoke to the patient in Arabic, while Poch spoke to the doctor in English and attained a full medical history of the patient. Within just a few moments from the call going out, the patient was hooked up to a monitor on the Efrat ICU ambulance and began receiving treatment from the assembled EMS personnel. In the case of the complete arm amputation, the response was similarly as quick and seamless.

“When I asked the doctor why he chose to come to Efrat to receive treatment, he responded by saying that he didn’t trust the Palestinian health care system for serious patients and he preferred sending his patients to receive Israeli health care,” Poch relayed. “It gave me a twofold sense of pride. First that the Israeli EMS system is open to receive patients regardless of background, and puts religious and political issues aside in favor of saving lives. My second stab of pride was in the knowledge that our EMS system was thought of highly by a person who could be one of our staunchest critics. It really brought the message home to me that this entire field is simply about helping people and everything else falls by the wayside.”

 

Poch said that while it is one incident in many, the message reverberates far beyond this individual incident. “Saving lives in Judea and Samaria is just one unifying point of EMS work in Israel. EMS teams often consist of people from different backgrounds and nationalities working together. Jews work alongside Arabs, Druze, Christians, and Bedouin of all different backgrounds. Even among the religious groupings themselves, there is a wide range of observant and secular responders working shoulder to shoulder all with the common goal of helping the patient. Volunteers even leave their beds in the middle of the night to rush out and save the life of a stranger or neighbor who called on them for help. It warms the heart every time to see it and be joined at an emergency scene by those who value the same ideals.”

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Jersey City CBEC Volunteer Saves A Life at Former Employer’s Office

Susan Paul is a remarkable resident of Jersey City. She loves the city that she calls home and the people in it, so much so that she signed up to train and volunteer as a community-based emergency caregiver (CBEC) in order to help her neighbors, friends, and family who live near her.

 

As a CBEC, Susan is alerted to all emergency calls that take place in her vicinity and is trained to provide first aid response to anyone who needs it. Susan is part of a program, together with another 100 volunteers known as United Rescue, a community-based first response program that works with the Jersey City Medical Center (JCMC) Barnabas Health. The most recent training course for CBEC’s began in September and concluded in December. Susan herself graduated this class and recently participated in performing a successful CPR on an unconscious patient.

Susan Paul poses for a photo in Jersey City in front of Lady Liberty

Susan Paul poses for a photo in Jersey City in front of Lady Liberty

The training course took 85 hours to complete in addition to outside studying and an additional 30 hours of hands on training while riding on an ambulance. The training level has been mandated by JCMC and the city to qualify the volunteer CBECs to act as first responders during medical emergencies.

 

“Susan received an alert via the app on her phone notifying her to the emergency which took place in the Goldman Sachs building at 30 Hudson Street. The building is one of the largest office buildings in Jersey City and is located only two blocks away from Susan’s home,” said Paul Sosman, the director of the local branch of United Rescue.  

 

The incident, a cardiac arrest, had occurred on one of the upper floors of the building on a loading dock. The Jersey City Medical Center team responded by sending out BLS as well as ALS teams. A bystander had already begun CPR and connected an AED in the few moments it took Susan to arrive.  

 

“When the EMS teams arrived they discovered that the gentleman had been working out during his lunch break when he went into cardiac arrest. Susan assisted the team in performing CPR on the patient for more than 30 minutes. The patient finally regained a pulse and was transported by the JCMC medical team to the hospital,” Paul added.

 

When asked about her first successful CPR Susan responded, “It gave me a great feeling to know that I was capable of helping someone. I had the training and the tools necessary to help and I was successful in doing so. After taking this course, I am a lot more capable, competent, and able to give back to my community. I used to work at the Goldman Sachs building, and just a year ago I would not have been able to help at all. Now, even though I wasn’t there at the time of the incident, I was one of the first responders on the scene, empowered and able to help save this person’s life. That is a great feeling.”

 

Susan said that this incident was the second cardiac arrest that she had responded to. The first one occurred a few weeks prior and unfortunately, the gentleman in that instance didn’t survive. During the incident at Goldman Sachs, the patient did survive, and in many ways, it was due to the early intervention that he received.

 

“The ability that you have to help the patient, someone who is near to you, a neighbor or coworker, is something that really affects a person,” mused Susan. “The first incident had a negative outcome and that affected me emotionally and lowered my confidence. When the second incident occurred, I rallied, responded, and acted just as I was trained to do. The result was a positive outcome and that restored a lot of confidence that I had been lacking. Saving a life is one of the most rewarding experiences a person can ever go through,” she added.  

 

Susan also mentioned how much the team mentality of the volunteers adds to their confidence and support that they have when responding to calls. “When you go out as part of United Rescue, you go out as part of a well-trained team of responders. Both the people in this organization, as well as the EMS responders in the city, are behind you.”

 

Sosman said that success stories in which volunteers save lives are exactly why the organization exists. “This is why we do what we do. Susan has been very active since graduation and was close by to the scene. She arrived in just a few minutes and together with the rest of the responders was able to achieve a positive outcome and regain the person’s pulse. Being near the scene and being trained as well as possessing the proper equipment to be able to save lives is exactly why we do what we do.”

 

United Rescue now boasts close to 100 volunteers spread across the city. Each volunteer responds to between 5-10 calls on average per month. “That is a lot of lifesaving for a group of volunteers, and our goal is to increase that and save even more lives,” Sosman concluded.   

 

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Student Volunteer Saves Lives in Israel’s Periphery

Shmuel Harel is a United Hatzalah ambucycle volunteer who lives in a small Kibbutz by the name of Kisufim in the Negev. He is a graduate student and organizational consultant for the Kibbutz, which borders the Gaza Strip. While Harel is an extremely busy young man, he makes the time to be an exceptionally dedicated volunteer EMT. No matter what he is doing, if an emergency call comes in, Harel answers it and heads out regularly to treat people who are in need of emergency medical services. In his area, ambulance response times are slow and first responders can make the difference between life and death. That is why United Hatzalah opened up a special unit of EMS responders known as Team Daniel, of which Harel is a member.  

Shmuel Harel standing in front of his ambucycle

Shmuel Harel standing in front of his ambucycle

On a recent morning, Shmuel was out for breakfast at a café with his girlfriend when his radio alerted him to a nearby car accident. The call came in from dispatch alerting Harel to a child injured in the accident. Harel called out an apology as he literally ran from the table and raced outside. He jumped on his ambucycle and arrived at the scene in three minutes.

The injured patient was a seven-year-old boy who was on his way to school. The boy had been waiting at a bus stop when he was struck by a passing vehicle. The woman who had been driving the car was sobbing and screaming for someone to help the child. The boy had suffered a head injury and was bleeding profusely. Harel found him lying on the pavement near the vehicle that had struck him.

Harel got to work quickly, bandaged the victim, put a brace on his neck, checked for internal injuries and prepared him for immediate transport to the hospital. The family was called and the child’s mother arrived at the scene. When the intensive care ambulance arrived 7 minutes later, Harel assisted the EMS team in transporting the boy to the trauma center along with his mother.

The boy’s mother expressed her profound gratitude to Harel for arriving so quickly and for providing such caring and effective treatment. Harel’s girlfriend had texted him a message of support but said that she had to leave the café and head to work. Harel hopped back on his ambucycle and headed for his class at University.

Shmuel Harel

Shmuel Harel

Like so many other volunteers, Harel is very committed to saving lives. Even when personal matters often take a back seat, the people around him understand that his dedication saves lives. “Living where I live, you can’t take chances,” said Harel. “You simply have to go and help. With the long waits for ambulances, first responders really do make a difference. It’s palpable and we save lives all the time,” he added.

 

Eli Beer, President and Founder of United Hatzalah spoke about the incident and said, “Volunteer responders in the periphery are true heroes. In these areas where ambulance response times are higher than in other parts of the country, it is first responders like Shmuel who make the difference between life and death. Instead of having to wait between 15 and 40 minutes for an ambulance, due to our dedicated volunteers in the periphery like Shmuel, patients and their loved ones need only wait a few minutes before help arrives. When an emergency occurs, those minutes waiting for an ambulance can feel like an eternity. Thanks to these volunteers, they don’t need to.”

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United Hatzalah Inaugurates 180 Ambucycles, Honors Ambassador David Friedman To Culminate International EMS Week

As International EMS week came to a close there was some good news on the horizon for Israelis from all backgrounds and religions. United Hatzalah put another 180 emergency ambucycles on the road on Friday enabling the organization’s volunteers to be able to respond to medical emergencies faster. The organization is hoping to cut down their 3 minute average response time even further with the influx of the new fleet of vehicles that were inaugurated at the single largest inauguration of EMS vehicles in the country’s history.

U.S. Ambassador David Friedman sits astride an ambucycle that was dedicated in his honor.

U.S. Ambassador David Friedman sits astride an ambucycle that was dedicated in his honor.

The vehicles were on display at a special ceremony held at Hangar 11 at the Tel Aviv port. The 180 new ambucycles will join the existing fleet of vehicles and give the organization more than 600 active ambucycles on the road. Currently one out of every five volunteers in the organization uses an ambucycle to respond to emergencies across the country. The organization also unveiled its new logo during the inauguration.

Attendees of the ceremony included such V.I.P.s as the U.S. Ambassador to Israel Mr. David Friedman, the Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv – Jaffa Rabbi Yisrael Lau, as well as internationally acclaimed businessmen and philanthropists, Leonardo Farkas, Isy Danon, Amy & Harlan Korenvaes, Leon Falic, Mark and Erica Gerson, and Harel Insurance Directors Yair and Ilana Hamburger. Supporters of the organization from across the Israeli spectrum attended the event and witnessed the special dedication of an ambucycle in honor of fallen EMT Efraim Gadassi, whose three small children took to the stage to accept the vehicle.

Ambassador Friedman speaks to the gathered crowd at Friday's event

Ambassador Friedman speaks to the gathered crowd at Friday’s event

Israeli Television celebrities, as well as fashion models, also came out to show their support of the EMS organization. Among them were modeling sensations, Ruslana Rodina, Alexa Dol and Anna Aharonov. Reality TV stars who came to show their support included Ma’ayan Adam, Masgano Mangisto, Eden Saban and Indel Cabda.      

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United Hatzalah Chairman Mark Gerson together with the organization’s Founder and President Eli Beer, honored Farkas, Danon, Hamburger, Korenvaes, and Falic, with keys to the organization to thank them for their continued support. Danon took the opportunity to dedicate a pair of ambucycles to the organization in honor of US President Donald Trump and Ambassador Friedman. Friedman was on hand to accept the ambucycles and spoke about his pride in the organization of which he has been a proud supporter for the last decade.

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Remembering Our EMS Brother Effi Gadassi

Last Friday morning at 3:30 a.m., while most of the country was sleeping, my phone started beeping incessantly. I, together with 3,500 other volunteers from United Hatzalah across Israel, Jewish and Arab alike, was horrified to see texts pouring in reporting that one of our EMS brothers, Efraim Gadassi had been injured in a motor vehicle accident during an emergency call.

Efraim on call

Efraim on call

Effi (Efraim), had gotten out of bed to respond to an emergency and help a complete stranger. Reports came in that indicated that the situation was not good. CPR was in progress. The next report said that the outlook was bleak. Other messages were asking that people say tehillim. Effi, who was on his way to save others, now needed saving. Unfortunately, God had other plans and Effi Gadassi Z”L was tragically taken from all of us.

The outpouring of tears began, and so far, has not stopped. Logistics got underway to help the family prepare  everything that was needed for the funeral and beyond. The Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit headed over to break the news to the family together with officers from the Jerusalem Police, and to help the family cope with what happened. People began unifying in action, offering help of any and every kind in a single-minded sense of support for the family and for each other.

Efraim Gadassi

Efraim Gadassi

Effi was a young father of three and a brother of some 3,500 fellow responders. An honor guard was arranged for the funeral of some 120 ambucycles from Jerusalem and the surrounding area. Jews and Arabs alike came together to show their support for their fallen brother. An additional hundred or so responders as well as United Hatzalah staff filled out the honor guard to pay their last respects for a fallen hero who just the week before had saved the lives of two young children who needed immediate medical help. Effi had responded to hundreds of calls each year and helped thousands of people, not just as an EMT but also as a volunteer in the Hospital Emergency Room program as well as with the Ten Kavod project in which Effi had volunteered to be matched up with an elderly citizen in which he would provide them with weekly medical checkups and companionship. In every sense of the word, this man was a hero.  

“As I watched the tears fall down the faces of our fellow responders who attended the funeral on Friday, and continued to watch as the honor guard slowly made its way across the entrance of Jerusalem heading towards the cemetery and Effi’s final resting place, I could not help but think of the simple power of unity of purpose,” said Raphael Poch, a United Hatzalah volunteer from Efrat. “Here were people from across the city and beyond, all coming together to show their respect, honor, love and support for a man with whom they shared a mission. The singular ideal that defines all of us as first responders is what brought us together, and brought us to tears. To lose a friend, a fellow first responder, a brother, a hero, is something that none of us ever wish to experience again, especially when that hero fell in the line of duty, responding to an emergency.”

Effi, was doing what he was accustomed to doing, what had become a calling for him over the past few years – getting out of bed in the middle of the night to go help someone. This type of a response is performed on a daily basis throughout the world with absolutely no recognition or fanfare. While doing a sacred and holy deed of saving a life, Effi was taken and left behind three orphans, who will now grow up without a father.

Efraim on his ambucycle

Efraim on his ambucycle

As another Hatzalah volunteer from America, Zalman Cohen put it, “Generally, first responders go about doing our business, even in the middle of the night, without people being aware of it. At that time of the day, the lights, sirens, and pomp, aka “the glory” are irrelevant. Trust me, the next morning when you wake up tired and sore, glory is the furthest thing from your mind. Remember, we are not paid crews. We are simply your brother, neighbor or friend who give our all to make sure you are in good hands.” That was indeed Effi.

The brotherhood of Hatzalah members from around the world has rallied around the United Hatzalah family in mourning the loss of our of their own. LODD (Line Of Duty Deaths) are truly one of the most traumatic experiences for any emergency response organization. United Hatzalah’s Pyschotrauma and Crisis Response Unit has been in high gear since the tragedy and will continue to do so as long as the needs are being identified within the United Hatzalah family. One of the keystones of the unit’s philosophy is resilience through unity. Connecting people who are suffering from traumatic loss with a social/family network of support is critical. Hatzalah members worldwide have taken numerous steps to express their support. Many have posted photos, changed icons or shared comments on social media. Some have posted donations and additional words of support on the fundraising campaign.  https://thechesedfund.com/cause/help-the-family-of-hatzlah-member-effi-gadassi . Numerous Hatzalah organizations and individuals have dedicated their ongoing lifesaving efforts in memory of Effi. Whether the support has been social, financial or spiritual it has been encouraging and beneficial.

People can always question how or why something happened. However, as someone who has put on the vest of a first responder and gone out in the middle of the night to answer the call of those in need of help, I look at this incident and see the truest sense of loss. But I also see a reason to be thankful. We should be thankful to those like Effi, and the thousands of other responders all over the world, regardless of their organizational affiliations, who put their lives on hold, and even risk injury to life and limb in order to help others. As Mr. Cohen said so eloquently, there are Hatzalah volunteers around the globe from Mexico to Moscow, Johannesburg to Jerusalem, Toronto to Miami” and there are responders of other organizations as well, the police, the fire and rescue teams, ambulance services, and outside of Israel regular EMS responders. Perhaps this incident will give us all pause so that we may reflect on the hundreds of thousands of responses that occur yearly, many of them in the middle of cold and bitter nights. First responders head out to save lives while others are sleeping comfortably, blissfully unaware.

To quote Zalman one more time, “Let this tragedy remind us all how fragile life is. Let it remind us who we all are. We have families, jobs, and commitments but let nothing stand in the way when someone else is in pain.” As first responders, we know the risks. We just hope and pray that none of our brothers or sisters will ever have to pay that price ever again. Let us do what we do best – unite in the goal of lifesaving and work to make sure that Effi’s sacrifice and memory will never be forgotten.

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Saying Thank You

On Thursday, a man walked into United Hatzalah’s headquarters in Jerusalem. He asked the first person he saw, “When someone calls in an emergency who answers the phone? Where is your dispatch center?” Moshe Levy, a volunteer EMT with the organization, as well as the head of logistics department answered the man and explained to him how the dispatch center works and where it is located. He took the man on a short tour of the building and asked him why the man was so interested in understanding how the dispatch center worked.

The man replied by telling Levy the following story: “About 45 minutes ago I was riding in a taxi by the entrance to the Har Nof neighborhood of Jerusalem. I saw a friend of mine sitting by himself at a bus stop. I asked the driver to pull over so that we could give my friend a lift. The driver pulled over to the side of the road and my friend got in the car. After approximately 400 meters (1200 feet) my friend collapsed inside of the taxi. I immediately called United Hatzalah’s dispatch number at 1221 and within 30 seconds, not one, but two ambucycle EMTs arrived and performed CPR on my friend.

United Hatzalah ambucycle volunteers respond to CPR on the street.

United Hatzalah ambucycle volunteers respond to CPR on the street.

My friend received a shock from the defibrillator, and then another and another. His pulse finally returned after the third shock. He suddenly began to breathe once more. I am completely overwhelmed with emotion right now and I feel that I have been a part of saving his life.”

The man continued to overflow with emotion as Levy continued listening to his story. “I thanked the EMTs over and over again for saving my friend, but I felt that I had to come here to your dispatch center and say thank you to the dispatcher who helped with the call as well. I want to shake his hand.”

Levy asked the dispatchers who answered the call as well as the dispatcher who sent the volunteers to step away from their desks for a moment. He introduced the excited gentleman to Ophir Yitzchak who received the call and instructed the man what to do, and Yechiel Stern who guided the volunteers so quickly to the location.

“Thank you. From the bottom of my heart thank you,” the man said over and over again. “You saved the life of my friend and there are not enough words in our language to say how much gratitude I have right now.  All I can say is that you are doing the work of G-d by saving lives and that those of us you help, as well as our families and friends all say thank you.”

The EMTs who responded and saved the man’s life were Yehuda Marciano and Bentzi Galinsky.

After the man left the headquarters, Moshe Levy took a moment to reflect on the incident. “Here I was in the middle of my workday when a stranger walked into the door and filled me with such a sense of pride and gratitude that I felt I simply had to share this story with whomever I could. It is no small feat to save a person’s life. You as a stranger walk into someone else’s life and help them in any way that you can. That is inspiring. But for us as responders to have someone walk in out-of-the-blue and say thank you in such a way inspires us to be better at what we do.”

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Helping Others Cope With Tragedy – The Story of Tobi Friedman

Israel Independence Day, just after noon – “Today I got a call that put what is important to me into perspective. As I was just beginning my family barbecue in honor of Israel’s Independence Day, I received an emergency call to respond to a death that had taken place in Kiryat Gat, a city 40 minutes to the south of where I live in Beit Shemesh. I’m not a first responder. I am part of United Hatzalah’s Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit. Our job is to head out to calls at a moment’s notice and provide psychological and social stabilization for people who have undergone a trauma or are suffering from a traumatic situation. Family members of those who suffered a trauma, as well as friends, neighbors, and eye-witnesses are the people we help in the field.

Psychotrauma Unit on scene in Kiryat Gat

Psychotrauma Unit on scene in Kiryat Gat

My partner Elkie Grossman and I left our families, got in my car and headed down highway 38 southbound towards Kiryat Gat, a city that we have gotten to know well after responding to many incidents there in the past few months.

On the way, we got updated regarding the situation in question. A man – a husband, father, son, brother, brother-in-law, nephew, son-in-law, neighbor, friend, community member – fell out the window of his 5th-floor apartment. One of the reasons I give all those descriptions is because all of those connections were at the scene. When we arrived at the scene just behind the ambulance, that had also left from Beit Shemesh, what we found was complete chaos.

United Hatzalah EMS volunteers and police were all over the place trying to help whomever they could deal with what had just happened. I was approached by a number of people as soon as I got out of my car. I had to ask them to speak one at a time.

The wife of the man who had fallen as well as one of their daughters was upstairs and I was told that they did not yet know that their husband and father was deceased. Outside, gathered around me were family members from the side of the deceased, an eyewitness who saw the fall and death, and other bystanders who came to see how they could offer help.

I went first to the sister of the man who was a 10+ on our scale of traumatic suffering. She was screaming and trying to get over to where the body was. There were other people telling her that she should go back to her family’s apartment. I told those around her to settle down and not try to force her to do anything. I told her that she could stay where we were as long as she didn’t keep trying to break through to get to her brother. I began treating her. I did some tapping, had her look at me and try to focus on the here and now. At one point it seemed as if she might faint. We got her water and did some breathing exercises to stabilize her. She calmed down somewhat, and I was able to bring her back to deal with her own surroundings. There were people around supporting her and I quickly enlisted their help to maintain the calm surrounding her and enabled them to provide her support when she needed it again.

Tobi Friedman

Tobi Friedman

I went over to where the man’s mother was sitting in a car. She also wanted to go over and see her son. People were preventing her from doing so. I tried to speak with her, however, she physically pushed me away and told me to leave her alone. I decided to go elsewhere as she had family members with her acting as her support group.

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United Hatzalah Finishes Preparations for 2017 Meron Operation Ahead of Lag Ba’Omer Holiday

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.

The United Hatzalah tent and emergency clinic set up in Meron

The United Hatzalah tent and emergency clinic set up in Meron

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.

Volunteer EMS personnel on watch during last year's event

Volunteer EMS personnel on watch during last year’s event

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.

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The Next Wave of Life-Saving in Israel Explained

Among the honored guest speakers at the Jerusalem Post Conference, which took place on Sunday in New York City, was United Hatzalah Founder and President Eli Beer. Beer was invited to discuss the technological advancements and social impact of the United Hatzalah model of life-saving in Israel and how it has revolutionized the field of pre-ambulatory emergency care in Israel and the shockwaves that it is making around the world.

Eli Beer on stage with a United Hatzalah ambucycle. (Photo Credit: Joel Leyden - Twitter)

Eli Beer on stage with a United Hatzalah ambucycle. (Photo Credit: Joel Leyden – Twitter)

Beer got on stage with one of the organization’s iconic ambucycles that have helped the United Hatzalah cut down emergency response time to under three minutes nationwide. By utilizing ambucycles (motorcycles that are stocked with all of the essential medical equipment that an ambulance has) to cut through traffic, and teaming them together with the organization’s volunteer network of more than 3,500 volunteers, the organization has developed a model that maintains the fastest emergency response time for a national organization in the world.

 

“We never stop innovating,” said Beer just before he took the stage. “Whatever is needed to answer the call and get our volunteers to the scene of an emergency faster in order to provide faster treatment for the patient, that is what we will do. It pains me whenever I hear a story of someone who suffered or died because there was a delay in providing that patient with emergency medical care, no matter how valid the reason. Time is of the essence and seconds count. That is why we are doing everything we can to cut down response time. We are continually training more and more volunteers both at the BLS and ALS levels, and we are providing them with the technology, equipment, and transportation that they need to arrive at an emergency as quickly as they can.”

 

The organization is living up to Beer’s philosophy and has recently purchased another 180 ambucycles, which will be used by the volunteers across the country to cut down response time even further. The ambucycles are set to be dedicated in a massive ceremony on May 26th in Tel Aviv. “This is the single largest dedication of emergency vehicles in Israel’s history. Never before have 180 life-saving ambucycles been dedicated at a single event. The organization has invested a lot of resources in this project in order to help the people of Israel even more than we do now. We will continue our efforts to cut down our response time, with the goal of eventually maintaining a nationwide response time of 90 seconds.”

 

Many have thought that Beer’s dream of a 90 second average response time was unobtainable, yet in major cities such as Jerusalem and parts of the greater Tel Aviv area, that average response time is already a reality. “We want to put a volunteer on every street corner and outfit them with all of the equipment that they will need to save a life. This includes a medical kit, a defibrillator, and a vehicle appropriate for their neighborhood, which will enable the volunteer to provide emergency medical services (EMS) coverage for his family, friends, and neighbors, in record time,” Beer added.
With the new fleet of ambucycles, and the 30 training courses currently underway across the country, Beer’s dream is quickly becoming a reality.  

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