Every night throughout Hanukkah, United Hatzalah will be awarding one highly dedicated volunteer with the annual Korenvaes Miracle Award. Tonight’s recipient, on the first night of Hanukkah, is Vicki Tiferet from Moshav Yuval.
Vicki Tiferet is a secular Jewish woman who lives in the town of Moshav Yuval with her husband and four children. Yuval sits directly on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon making Vicki one of the country’s northernmost responders outside of the Golan Heights. She became a volunteer EMT with United Hatzalah three years ago after being diagnosed with a chronic medical condition called Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS), a chronic disease that causes inflammation of the joints and spine that results in severe pain. “Helping others does me good,” Vicki explained.
Vicki immigrated from Russia with the large wave of immigrants from the former Soviet Union in 1991 when she was just nine years old. Seven years ago, Vicki began suffering pain in her spine which baffled doctors for more than three years until she was finally diagnosed with (AS). In an effort to help others where she could not help herself, Vicki became a massage therapist and now spends her days alleviating the back pain and spinal issues of others. But that wasn’t quite enough for her. Three years ago, Vicki saw an advertisement for an EMT training course and jumped at the possibility of becoming a volunteer first responder with United Hatzalah. She since has become one of the most active volunteers in the Hula Valley region.
In addition to her EMS work, Vicki joined the organization’s Ten Kavod (Giving Honor) project which sees United Hatzalah volunteers visit an elderly patient once a week in order to assess and maintain their health as well as spend some time with them to alleviate the sense of loneliness that many elderly people feel. She also became the regional coordinator of the Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit (PCRU) for the Hula Valley and Golan Heights, and she is enrolled in an upcoming ambulance driver’s training course. Due to her ceaseless desire to help others and her constant activity in the region, she was quickly appointed to become the Deputy Chapter Head of the Hula Valley chapter and is one of only three women in the entire country to hold such a position.
“Due to AS, I live with pain 24/7 and every day that passes is another day closer to the time that I will have to use a wheelchair to get around,” Vicki explained. “Whenever I wake up, I need to perform a series of exercises before I can move my limbs without serious pain. It makes getting up in the middle of the night to rush out to medical emergencies extremely difficult. But I do it and I do it with love. Because the thing that keeps me healthy is the adrenaline rush that I get every time that I respond to an emergency.” (Ironically, just as Vicki said that during the phone call interview, she received an emergency alert on a nearby street and had to hang up in order to respond to the emergency.)
Vicki continued to explain why she is so tenacious when it comes to responding to medical emergencies. “It does me good to help others. I do what I can with the time that I can still do it. I am considered by the state to be disabled, but helping others does good for my body and soul, so this is what I do. I believe that what happens with most of our illnesses is that they are somewhat diminished if we are happy and spiritually healthy.”
“This is my life. This is what I live with and this is what I choose to do with what I have been given. I choose to help others. I encourage my fellow volunteers to go out to any and every emergency that they can because you never know who you can help. I live and breathe this mission of helping others with United Hatzalah. Whenever other people or volunteers see me rushing out to an emergency or hear me on the radio report that I am en route, then they get the drive to respond as well. They think to themselves, if Vicki can do this then so can I.”
Vicki added that due to the topographical challenges of her region it is important that everyone who can respond to a medical emergency does so. “There are large distances between towns and villages here and to get to a hospital takes a long time. So I never say to myself, someone else will go and help. I am that “someone” who needs to go and help. If I don’t show up, I don’t how long it will be before the next person can arrive.”
Vicki has been selected as the 1st recipient of the Korenvaes Miracle Award this Hanukkah. We will be posting other recipients nightly. To send Vicki a Hanukkah card or to make a donation in her honor that will help save lives in Israel throughout the next year, please click here.