When one thinks of an angel they might think of the color white. However, in Israel, the color of angels is actually orange. When people need emergency medical help and they are sitting and waiting with tears in their eyes in a moment of desperation, that is when the angels in orange appear. The people of Israel are the ones who gave the nickname “angels in orange” to the volunteers of United Hatzalah, as it reflects the feeling that washes over the patients and their families who are waiting for a miracle during their time of crisis.
Take Chaya for example. When she was walking with her husband on a busy street in Jerusalem and her husband suddenly held his chest and fell over, people were watching, but no one seemed to know what to do. After pulling out her phone and immediately calling United Hatzalah, she waited exactly 96 seconds (which to her felt like 96 years) for assistance to come and help her husband. When assistance did arrive, she thanked the first responder, a volunteer EMT with United Hatzalah, profusely and called him an angel.
It is in moments of fear, often following an accident or tragedy that people often wait for someone to come and save them. The feeling of relief and salvation that ensue once a trained responder, who is always enveloped in the organization’s iconic orange vests, arrives at the scene, is palpable. More recently, these responders have also begun to show up riding an orange colored emergency vehicle, whether it be the organization’s newly branded ambucycles or ambulances.
The organization’s volunteers come from different backgrounds, denominations, religions, ages, and genders. They are a subsection of the spectrum of life in Israel and include Arab, Druze, Bedouin, Christian and Jewish volunteers who live all over the country. The one thing these 3,500 volunteers have in common is how much they value the importance of a life. Whatever they are doing, no matter what time of day or night it is, if they get called to an emergency, they drop everything and run. They show up to a scene as an angel would and help in whatever way is needed.
A few weeks ago a construction crane collapsed and a worker was severely injured. The worker, together with the crane, had fallen more than 6 stories in the crane cabin to the pavement below. All those at the construction site surrounded the man and wanted to help, but without proper training or equipment, there wasn’t much they knew how to do besides wait for help to arrive. When United Hatzalah’s volunteer Ben, arrived at the scene, all those surrounding the injured man gave a huge sigh of relief at the sight of the medic’s orange vest identifying him as someone who knew how to help their injured co-worker.
After a quick assessment Ben determined that even though the worker was still conscious, he had suffered multiple injuries including a serious head wound. Ben administered first aid treatment, together with other volunteer EMS personnel who arrived, Ben extricated the worker from the fallen crane and took him to a safe location, secured the worker’s spinal column and airway, splinted his broken limbs, bandaged his wounds and prepped him for transport.
When the intensive care ambulance arrived, Ben assisted in carefully transferring the man to the ambulance for immediate transport to the nearest trauma center. The other workers on scene thanked Ben and his fellow EMS volunteers profusely and called them angels.
The stories are endless and they occur every day. In another recent incident Shira, who was in her ninth month of pregnancy, began having very swift contractions. As her water broke she understood that she wasn’t going to have enough time to get to the hospital to deliver her child. Her husband, under a lot of stress and not knowing what to do, called his friend and neighbor Yehuda who is a United Hatzalah volunteer. Yehuda told his frantic friend he was on the way and then quickly alerted United Hatzalah’s dispatch and command center about the emergency and asked them to send other volunteers to assist the delivery. Yehuda then dashed outside to his ambucycle, flicked on the lights and sirens, and raced to the apartment. He arrived in less than 30 seconds.
He ran into the room where Shira was lying on the floor in the final stages of labor, her worried husband by her side. The experienced medic quickly prepared the birth kit and minutes later the baby was born! The family’s other children, who were scared and hiding in other rooms, began to peek out from their bedroom doors as Yehuda guided the woman through the ordeal and handed her a healthy baby girl!
After the cord was cut, Yehuda went and spoke to the children to calm and congratulate them and their father. Before the ambulance came he made sure that Shira and her newest daughter were safe and comfortable. When the ambulance arrived, Yehuda assisted the exhausted yet overjoyed mother and her new baby onto the ambulance so that they could be transported to the hospital.
Our volunteers are there for the people of Israel 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. When you need them, they arrive. These EMS volunteers are not dressed in white, they don’t have wings and they don’t fly, but they help when help is needed most. When there is a medical emergency, no matter where that emergency takes place, they arrive as fast as possible and they get the job done. They save lives and they are selfless. Ask anyone who has ever needed to wait for medical help during an emergency and they will tell you that the responders are like angels. Ask anyone in Israel and they will tell you, those who respond first are the angels in orange of United Hatzalah.
To donate in support of Jewish Giving Day and United Hatzalah’s Angels in Orange please click here: