On Shabbat (Saturday, March 2nd) during the stormy morning hours, United Hatzalah volunteers EMTs from Kiryat Gat and the surrounding region were asked by the Israeli Police to participate in the search for an older gentleman who had gone missing on Friday afternoon. It was believed that the man’s life was in danger due to prolonged exposure to the elements and his previous health status.  


The organization received permission from its Halachik Adviser Rabbi Naftali Halperin to send out a large number of volunteers to join in the search for the missing man who was a resident of Kiryat Gat.

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Illustration: United Hatzalah vehicles participate in a training drill in the Kiryat Gat region (Photo was taken during a weekday)

The volunteers joined the police at their mobile command station which had been set up in the city’s police station. There they were divided up into teams and assigned search quadrants. The volunteers then spent the next number of hours searching through the city and the surrounding area, in the wind and rain in order to find and rescue the missing man. The organization utilized a variety of emergency vehicles from the city, as well as those brought in from the surrounding area including Gush Etzion and Beit Shemesh. Ambulances, ambucycles and all-terrain vehicles (ATV’s) were utilized where they could provide the most assistance.  


During the search and rescue operations, a call was received about a man who was laying on the ground on Malchei Yisrael street in the city. A United Hatzalah ambulance was dispatched together with the police and arrived together at the location. There they found the missing man who was fully conscious. He was suffering from a mild case of hypothermia. Together, the officers and EMTs put the man into the ambulance and dried him off from the rain and warmed him. While he was recuperating, the ambulance crew began checking his vital signs and performing medical tests in order to ascertain his level of health.


Director of Operations for the Kiryat Gat chapter of United Hatzalah said after Shabbat: “United Hatzalah’s network of volunteers is prepared to provide emergency medical response 24-hours-a-day. This work includes working on Shabbatot in accordance with the Halachik decisions made by United Hatzalah’s Halachik division. In a situation such as this one form today, where there is a very real threat to someone’s life, our volunteers answered the call immediately and left their homes and families on the day of rest to go search for a person in trouble. I was proud to hear that our volunteers, together with the police of Kiryat Gat found the missing person in stable condition. I want to thank the dozens of volunteers from the region and the neighboring regions of Beit Shemesh and Gush Etzion who participated in the search and gave of their time to assist in saving this man. Together, we prevented a tragedy today.”