One of the lesser-known vehicles that United Hatzalah uses to save lives is the ATV or All-Terrain-Vehicle. The organization has close to 40 of these vehicles distributed across the country in locations where there is a lot of need for them, either off-road or on beaches where other vehicles, including ambulances, have a lot of difficulty traveling.

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One of the organizations ATVs was called upon during the harsh winter storms that struck Israel recently.  An adventurous family of five was driving in their jeep and attempting to navigate a shallow wadi (dry river bed) when a sudden downpour ensued. The rain resulted in a flash flood that caused the river to swell. The sudden rising water caused the jeep, with the family in it, to stall in the middle of the water. The family was trapped inside and could not exit the vehicle for fear of being swept away by the current. With the water level rising inside their vehicle, the father called for help.

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The car that was swept away

As soon as the call came in, United Hatzalah EMT Raphael Elbaz raced over in the ATV that had been stationed near his house. Upon arriving at the scene, Elbaz called to the family using a megaphone from the ATV. He instructed them to climb onto the roof of their jeep. He then tossed them a rescue line and attached the other end to the ATV. By using the vehicle as an anchor, Elbaz together with the other gathered first responders who arrived, successfully pulled all five family members to safety. Elbaz helped the family into the ATV and brought them to a United Hatzalah ambulance that was waiting to transport them to the hospital. Two of the family members were suffering from hypothermia and were shaking from the cold. EMTs in the ambulance turned on the heat and wrapped them in reflective heat blankets and a second layer of warm rescue blankets. The ambulance team then took the family to the hospital for definitive care and observation.  

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The rescue ATV enabled the volunteers to save this family when no other vehicles could.

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The rescue team