The American Heart Association (AHA) boasts some 700 international training centers throughout the world. According to Glenn Vanden Houten, the AHA’s Regional Director for Europe and Africa, “United Hatzalah became one of our authorized training centers. We are proud that you have become part of that family.”


The new authorization provided by the AHA recognizes the United Hatzalah education and training of its EMTs and Paramedics as well as other community-based training initiatives such as the “Family First” project, which teaches basic CPR skills to the general public in a four-hour class.

United Hatzalah EMTs during a training exercise in Jerusalem.
United Hatzalah EMTs during a training exercise in Jerusalem.

“Both the basic life support (BLS) education as well as the advanced life support (ALS) training that United Hatzalah does will now come with international standardization. The idea is that the courses that are taught in United Hatzalah are the same courses that are taught in San Francisco, Italy and the rest of the world. It is standardized resuscitation training throughout the world. We are very proud to be part of United Hatzalah and to have a recognition from the Israeli side as well.”


On Sunday, Mr. Vanden Houten met with the Chief Medical supervisors of United Hatzalah, Israel’s national EMS first response organization on Sunday. Taking part in the meeting was Alon Basker, Manager of the Medical Division of United Hatzalah, and Itzik Chachmon the Project Manager in the Medical Division, as well as Dr. Kathryn Taubert, the Vice President of International Science and Health Strategies of AHA.


Dr. Taubert added that “The AHA is very proud to be here and to fully establish this partnership as we know that properly administered CPR saves lives. There is no doubt about that. We are very appreciative to United Hatzalah for partnering with us, but the person who is most appreciative is the person who is receiving the professional level of CPR that is being administered by your volunteers. The United Hatzalah model as we have seen it is fantastic. I’ve attended meetings around the world and we have seen the problem that traffic can provide for EMS response teams. Traffic is often a major cause of lengthy ‘door to bag’ and ‘door to needle’ response times. What United Hatzalah is doing in terms of cutting down response times is incredible and I’m sure it is saving lives.”

Basker added that “when a person rescues someone by performing CPR they are not only saving that individual, they are saving the individual’s whole family.”


During the discussion, the topic of why people join EMS organizations such as United Hatzalah arose. Vanden Houten said that each volunteer or employee of an EMS organization or a heart awareness organization has their own reason as to why they do what they do. By tapping into that reason the AHA and associate organizations hope to encourage a stricter adherence to CPR guidelines that have been proven to save lives across the globe. All of the people present agreed that the most engaging reason given is life itself. “For me,” said Vanden Houten, “my why is because one Easter, my mother collapsed of an acute Myocardial Infarction (MI) and I did not do CPR right away. I dialed 911, I was hysterical and the Dr. on the line was trying to instruct me how to do CPR. My mother didn’t survive as her MI was massive. But I know that she is now looking down on all the work that we are doing by promoting the knowledge of how to do advanced resuscitation and she is smiling down on me.”   


“We all have our reasons for doing this,” said Chachmon. “What makes this organization special is that not only do our volunteers encourage each other, but with the advanced training they receive they are enabled to go out into the field and perform advanced CPR fulfilling the guidelines to the letter and with the moral support of fellow volunteers.”


Basker added that the organization wishes to thank the AHA for the new accreditation and that he looks forward to having all of the volunteers across Israel now be recognized under the AHA.


Vanden Houten responded and said, “We very much look forward to our future collaboration with United Hatzalah. I think that our work together will evolve here in Israel, and I am very excited that we had the opportunity to come and learn more about your organization. I’ve already started coming up with ideas about how to develop our partnership further.”