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The Psychotrauma & Crisis Response Unit addresses the emotional needs of family members, witnesses and bystanders during and after traumatic situations.
The Psychotrauma & Crisis Response Unit’s mission is to enhance the lifesaving efforts of United Hatzalah, the largest, fastest, non-profit, fully volunteer, and free Emergency Medical Services organization in Israel. The Psychotrauma & Crisis Response Unit addresses the emotional needs of family members, witnesses, and bystanders during and after traumatic situations.
The unit is determined to provide emotional support and stabilization for any civilian who needs it across the country as well as for United Hatzalah medics after being exposed to traumatic calls. The unit trains mental health professionals who volunteer alongside United Hatzalah medics in the field.
United Hatzalah of Israel’s Psychotrauma & Crisis Response Unit is taking EMS care to the next level
The Psychotrauma & Crisis Response Unit’s (PCRU) mission is to enhance the lifesaving efforts of United Hatzalah’s EMS core service by sending specially trained and qualified psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, and social workers, to the scenes of emotionally and psychologically traumatic medical emergencies to provide psychological first aid, or PFA. By providing this specialized level of care, both for the victims of the medical emergency, as well as eye-witnesses, the PCRU hopes to limit the emotional and psychological trauma and scarring that these emergencies can cause. Whether the witness is a bystander, a family member, or even a fellow first responder, by providing near-immediate psychological and emotions stabilization, the PCRU hopes to limit the after effects of the trauma on those who experienced it and prevent the onset of acute stress reactions.
The unit is unique in its commitment to arrive at the scene within minutes to provide emotional stabilization treatment, enabling the victim to cope emotionally with the situation in real time. Once there, our responders identify the traumatized victims and witnesses, and provide clinically tested emotional stabilization treatment as needed. They also engage family members and bystanders to provide information about where to turn to for community support or further psychological assistance and make sure that the patient or patients have a support network prior to the responders leaving the scene.
Basic psychological first aid is being taught to all of United Hatzalah’s volunteers in the form of the Six C’s Model, so that all of our 6,500 volunteers will know how to identify a person in need of stabilization. The volunteers will then notify dispatch that the situation requires advanced level responders and begin initial treatment while advanced level responders are on route. Upon arrival at the scene the advanced level responders will provide treatment utilizing the best technique to fit the situation. The advanced level unit is comprised of several hundred responders spread across Israel. The PCRU is determined to provide emotional support and stabilization for any civilian who needs it across the country, as well as for United Hatzalah volunteers and first responders from other agencies after they are exposed to traumatic calls.
The Psychotrauma & Crisis Response Unit offers a brief training course to outside organizations, groups, corporations and businesses on psychological first aid. Our unit has been asked to run one-time courses for IDF sanctions, groups in the police force and even for a local squad of firemen. For more details contact Avi at [email protected].
“Kindness starts at home,” states the age-old saying. For the Psychotrauma & Crisis Response Unit, this is a core value. United Hatzalah comprises 6,500 medics and that number is constantly rising. Quite often, our very own medics experience emotionally-taxing calls and walk away from a scene with emotions and feelings that they do not know how to process. Our unit assists our medics in dealing with what they witnessed or were involved in either with 1:1 “sessions” or in group settings.
The Psychotrauma & Crisis Response Unit started a K9 Unit which, as of today, includes one very special puppy named Lucy. Lucy, the orange-vest-wearing psychotrauma dog, has assisted people in crises on numerous occasions by helping bystanders and family members move away from the traumatic scene by “following” the dog. When there is a medical crisis, the first step that needs to take place is the removal of the individuals from the scene. The dog plays an important role in helping our responders remove individuals from the situation. Once the person or people are removed, they many times become distracted by and calmed down simply by focusing on the dog, thereby immediately lessening the immediate stress.
Read about Lucy in Surfside, Florida: The beauty of humanity brought out by a therapy dog in Surfside.
In August 2017, when Hurricane Irma hit, United Hatzalah sent a rescue team from Israel composed of 6 rescue and 3 Psychotrauma & Crisis Response Unit volunteers. They first went to Atlanta and drove hours through destruction and made their way all away to Savannah, Miami, Naples and the Florida Keys. They helped in every way possible whether it was assisting people move their things, receiving food and drink or helping victims of the flooding with their trauma. Watch this story on Fox 5 news.
Less than a month later, in September 2017, Hurricane Harvey hit Houston. We immediately sent 5 volunteers helping with disaster relief and post trauma care from our Psychotrauma Unit. Our EMTS and therapists created trauma relief workshops for children and had many meaningful encounters helping the people deal with the catastrophe.
On October 27, 2018, during Saturday prayers, 11 people were murdered in cold blood in the Tree of Life synagogue, the Squirrel Hill neighborhoodo of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Our psychotrauma unit worked day and night with the congregants and the neighborhood at large trying to help with the severe trauma. Our volunteers talked in the schools and the JCC to work with the kids and helped anyone who needed support after their safety was deeply compromised and violated.
On Thursday, June 24, 2021, a building (the Champlain Towers), which was a 12-story beachfront condominium in the Miami suburb of Surfside, Florida, collapsed. Hundreds of people were trapped for days and ninety-eight people died. Our team brought emotional stabilization to the families, the community centers, and the first responders searching for survivors on the premises. Our professionally trained team helped the community and family members deal with the deep trauma and pain they were experiencing. On this delegation, the Psychotrauma Unit’s trauma-trained dog, Lucy, helped numerous people open up and break down with tears; the dog was a significant player in helping people heal.
We also have a hot-line for our volunteers where they can call or send a message regarding themselves or colleagues that need assistance or are going through a hard time and need psychotrauma’s unit to help them after a difficult call.
From February-April 2022, we sent dozens of Psychotrauma volunteers to Moldova to help Ukrainian refugees. Our EMTS and therapists helped with the trauma relief for mothers, their children and the elderly who were kicked out of their homes, left their husbands and fathers, and arrived at the border empty handed after days of traveling in the freezing cold.
The goal was to help people deal with the trauma they were facing. 25,000+ refugees were provided with medical care and emotional/humanitarian aid.
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Welcome to United Humans- a podcast that goes into the personal lives of our 6,500 volunteer medics and their families. On this podcast we dive into their personal struggles, challenges and human side…. Come get to know these diverse volunteers from all across the country
of United Hatzalah Israel
Suite 12 – The Brentano Suite
First Floor, Lyttelton House
2 Lyttelton Road, London, N2 0EF
Office: 020 3823 4650
Mobile: 07809 467 933
Charity No. 1101329
United Hatzalah’s latest annual report may be obtained, upon request, from our organization directly at Friends of United Hatzalah, 442 5th Ave, Suite 1866, New York, NY 10018 or from the New York State Attorney General’s Charities Bureau at Charities Bureau, 28 Liberty Street, 15th Floor, New York, New York 10005.
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