Sons Follow in Their Father’s Footsteps and Become Volunteer EMTs

One of the most inspiring moments for any parent is when your child mimics your actions and chooses a life path similar to your own. Two excited fathers, who volunteer as EMTs in the northern city of Tevaria were given the chance to experience this first-hand this week as their sons began the newly offered EMT training course opened in Tevaria by United Hatzalah.

“My son began the course this week, and I am very excited for him. It will be wonderful to work together, side-by-side and to save lives together,” said Yossi Vaknin, head of the Tevaria chapter of United Hatzalah.

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Tevaria is a special city for the medical response organization as the natural topography poses many challenges to rescuers, EMTs and paramedics who volunteer there. The city sits on the beach of the Kinneret Lake (Sea of Galilee), Israel’s largest freshwater lake, and rises up along the slopes of the Galilean Mountains. Between the water rescue missions and the search and rescue situations which often involve scaling and repelling down cliffs to reach and treat injured hikers, Tevaria’s EMT training course offers a more in-depth and intense training as compared to other courses of its kind throughout the rest of the country. “We cover everything from scuba-diving and marine rescues, to search and rescue as well as repelling and rock climbing training, said Vaknin.

The Tevaria chapter boasts the only Marine Rescue Unit to operate on the Kinneret. The Medical Rescue Unit, which maintains a speed boat as well as a fleet of jet skis, works together with the Police Marine Unit to man the water during nine months of the year when tourists and vacationers flock to the lake.  

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 Another father-son team that emanates from the current course is the Ohayon family. Avi Ohayon is an upper-level EMT within the organization, having volunteered with them for over 12 years. Now his son Yossi is joining up as well. “I am ecstatic that my son is joining our team. My heart is overjoyed that he made the decision for no other reason than a desire to save lives. It is my fondest wish that everyone who joins with United Hatzalah should be able to save lives and does so for the right reasons.”

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Vaknin added that even though he views all of the volunteers as a large family, there is something special about bringing one’s biological family into the fold. “We are all family here, now more so than ever. It is something that I myself, as well as the other volunteers value greatly. It is especially heart-warming to know that values have been shared and passed down properly to the next generation. As the prophet Malachi said: “One of the signs of redemption is when the hearts of fathers turn to their sons and the hearts of the sons turn to their fathers,” – Malachi 4:6.

The new EMT course in Tevaria kicked off on Sunday when 25 new recruits began their 180-hour training course to become EMTs. In Tevaria, extra hours are added to the nationally recognized course in order to properly train the EMTs in emergency marine and mountain rescue techniques.   

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