A woman was driving along Highway 65 near Afula when she lost control of her car, spinning wildly and flipping over. United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Yitzchak Shayov was nearby and the United Hatzalah dispatching system identified him as one of the five closest responders to the scene. After being notified of the harrowing incident, Yitzchak immediately raced to the scene, arriving in the shortest time possible. The skilled EMT found the 50-year-old driver trapped inside her vehicle having suffered injuries to her head and abdomen. He applied a neck brace for C-spine stabilization and reassured the woman as they waited for the arrival of the fire department’s special rescues unit to extricate her from the vehicle. After she was freed from the vehicle, Yitzchak together with other arriving first responders bandaged her wounds, immobilized her to a backboard, and loaded her onto an ambulance for rapid evacuation to nearby HaEmek Medical Center.
This is just one of the thousands of regular emergency calls that United Hatzalah and its volunteers respond to on a daily basis. During this current pandemic and resultant public health crisis, with COVID-19 cases rising dramatically in Israel and abroad, United Hatzalah’s volunteer EMTs paramedics, and doctors, continue to put themselves in harm’s way to provide emergency medical care to anyone in need. Israel’s Ministry of Health has taken an aggressive approach in attempting to prevent the virus’ spread in the country and United Hatzalah is doing everything it can to assist in this mission, all the while maintaining their regular emergency medical service activities.
With the need to conduct home testing on thousands upon thousands of people, Israel’s ambulance services are overtaxed and spread extremely thin – too thin to provide a fast and adequate response to the thousands of general medical emergencies that occur on a daily basis. United Hatzalah is stepping in to fill that gap, responding to a growing number of medical emergencies across the country as well as fielding numerous queries for COVID-19 advice. Additionally, the organization’s fleet of ambulances has been called on to help transfer COVID-19 patients between hospitals and special quarantine centers.
Israel is under lockdown and tens of thousands of at-risk Israelis are struggling to access even the most essential resources. United Hatzalah has stepped up to help coordinate and deliver food packages to elderly citizens, Holocaust survivors, and other affected populations. In cooperation with the Israel Association of Community Centers and the non-profit Lev Echad Community Crisis Aid organization, United Hatzalah has established the National Humanitarian Dispatch Center. The initiative will be using United Hatzalah’s proprietary technology to locate the closest volunteers based on the GPS on their phones and alert them to the humanitarian emergency in their proximity. To this end, United Hatzalah’s technical operations department has been overseeing the expansion of its current dispatch center and the establishment of an additional center in Tel Aviv. In just its first few hours of operation, the National Humanitarian Dispatch Center responded to thousands of calls. In addition to continuing their response to medical emergencies, the organization’s dispatchers are managing a combined network of 30,000 volunteers in delivering food, medicine, and other necessary supplies.
Despite the inherent risks, thousands of volunteers like Yitzchak are on the frontlines and united in their dedication to United Hatzalah’s mission to provide prompt, caring, and expert emergency medical responses under any circumstances. As an organization, United Hatzalah is committed to taking all necessary protective measures to ensure the health and safety of our medics.
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