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Israelife – providing a framework for volunteer rescue operations in Israel and around the world
In Israel there are a number of emergency aid organizations, under whose auspices tens of thousands of individuals volunteer. United Hatzalah, for example, has over 3,000 medical volunteers which include paramedics, EMS personnel and doctors all of whom share the goal of providing life-saving first aid treatment in the field within the first three minutes of a medical emergency call being received. Another example is the thirteen rescue organizations that currently work in Israel also on a volunteer basis. Their mission is to search for and rescue citizens and hikers who have lost their way while hiking through the various nature reserves, national parks and hiking trails.
Yet another example is the Zaka organization that deals with honoring the deceased, identifying victims of tragedies and bringing them to burial. Each one of these organizations is an expert in its field, but what happens when a complex emergency requires the interaction of all of these groups together?
This is exactly the purpose of the Israelife Foundation which is providing an umbrella for all of these volunteer organizations Israelife is collecting donations and organizing the fundraising initiatives of each of these organizations. It also supports their activities, and unifies them as needed to carry out work and liaise with one another while allowing them all to utilize the state-of-the-art advanced technology that is required by each of them to carry out their respective missions.
“The Israelife Foundation is fundraising in order to provide all of these organizations with the tools that they need in order to save as many lives as possible” said Israelife Foundation Director Eli Pollack. “We have thus far proven that cooperation between the various emergency response groups maximizes their potential effectiveness. The best example of this were the various missions that Israelife organized and sent off to disaster areas.”
The foundation organized a unified mission which went to Nepal last April following the disastrous earthquake which decimated the area. The mission was organized in just a few hours and included medical personnel from United Hatzalah, search and rescue professionals from the rescue units and volunteers from Zaka. “The goal of the mission was to establish local medical clinics to help treat people near the site of the heaviest devastation of the earthquake, to locate and rescue trapped individuals, and to find and identify lost Israelis.” Pollack himself led the team to Nepal. “We decided then to unify the major emergency response groups in Israel in an effort to maximize the effectiveness of the aid mission. Each organization brought its professionalism and expertise and thus we were able to provide assistance for the Israelis in Nepal as well as the local populace.”
For three weeks the 24 members of the aid mission stayed in Nepal. They opened a makeshift medical clinic in remote towns near the heaviest hit areas and saved thelives of hundreds of residents. Another important yet painful mission which was achieved with success was the location and identification of the body of Israeli backpacker Or Asraf who was killed while hiking the Langtang trail.
In September, Israelife organized a search team that went to Ukraine in order to locate the body of Amir Ohana, who was found in a lake near Uman.
Israelife developed an advanced application known a s “Lifecompass” which is used to send different emergency response volunteers to a variety of emergency situations. Pollack explained that “the application utilizes GPS technology in order to map out the closest volunteer responder to any emergency and sends them to respond, thereby cutting down response time to just a few moments.” The technology is currently used by United Hatzalah and other rescue organizations in other countries. “United Hatzalah, for example, utilizes the technology to locate the closest trained volunteer, and to register what equipment they have with them and how fast they can get to the location of the emergency,” Pollak added. The technology is currently also being used by rescue organizations in the U.S. and South America and numerous other countries are building up interest as well.
An additional project is starting to take shape in Israelife which will involve the use of drones to help locate and identify injured persons. “We recognized the unique abilities and advantages of drone use by rescue organizations” said Pollack. “We therefore have begun to integrate the use of drones within the various emergency resue organizations that we work with. A drone that utilizes a camera can give search and rescue teams a different pictures from a bird’s eye view and can help immensely when conducting searches. We believe that in the not too distant future a drone will be capable of transporting medical equipment such as a defibrillator to the site of an emergency at high speeds and thereby saves lives. Israelife also has their eyes set on establishing advanced learning systems to be used by the various rescue organizations. “Within the frameworks of the learning project we will create educational material that will assist and improve the ability of the rescue organizations in the field, something that will bring about the saving of more lives.”
The Israelife Foundation is currently involved with numerous other projects as well. One of the projects is entitled ‘Giving Honor’ and under its auspices volunteer medical personnel visit elderly citizens in their cities once a week, many of these citizens are holocaust survivors. The volunteers follow up on their medical condition and consult with the person’s family doctor as well as provide them with assistance should they need it. Recently Israelife also created a medical wristband which includes a barcode on it that any medical professional can scan and receive the medical history of the individual wearing the band. Thus in the cases in which the elderly person cannot speak or is found unconscious medical professionals will know what medical issues the person has and what the most appropriate treatment to give them will be.
The wristbands were created in partnership with Archi Medics Global Group Ltd. who created the MyMDBand bracelets. The distribution of the MyMDBand bracelets was funded by a crowdsourcing campaign conducted by the foundation. “The ‘Giving Honor’ project is one of the initiatives that we at Israelife are most proud of. As the number of holocaust survivors dwindles each year, we are proud that we can help maintain their health and provide assistance with whatever they need.”