United Hatzalah recently announced a plan that will eventually see 600 private ambulances, operated by United Ambulance of Israel, that will now be alerted to those in need by United Hatzalah’s dispatch. This new initiative, referred to as “600+600,” means that when an emergency is received by United Hatzalah’s emergency number of 1221, the dispatcher will alert the organization’s 5,000 emergency medical service (EMS) volunteers, who arrive on-scene in just three minutes or less, as well as ambulances from this 600 ambulance consortium, as well as the national ambulance service which is also comprised of some 600 active ambulances. This is in an effort to provide the patient with the fastest response possible for advanced care and transport.

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A United Hatzalah ICU ambulance sits next to a private ICU ambulance from S.T.A.S. Ambulances in Tel Aviv on Sunday.

Until now, too often the many private ambulances operating around Israel are nearby to where transport is needed but are unaware of the emergency. By being linked to United Hatzalah’s dispatch system, they, like United Hatzalah’s EMS first responders, can be deployed locally, “uber-style,” to significantly reduce arrival time of necessary transport to a medical facility.  United Hatzalah operates a small fleet of ambulances that are free of service charges and the private ambulance fee structure is anywhere from 5-20% lower than those charged by Israel’s national ambulance service. Israelis will now benefit not only from faster arrival times but also incur less expense.

Moshe Teitelbaum, CEO of United Hatzalah, shared that this arrangement is a win-win for Israel and all Israelis as critical ambulance resources will be more effectively deployed. Teitelbaum went on to say that “the project that we have initiated today is rectifying the absurd existing situation in which 600 private ambulances around the country, who can save lives and transport patients, do not know when an emergency is occurring in their vicinity.”

“In April 2017, a three-year-old child in Kiryat Gat choked on sand that he had swallowed. Israel’s national ambulance service took more than 30 minutes to arrive and the child died. However, less than three minutes away from the daycare where the child was located stood a private intensive care ambulance with its team. Had this team of professionals known about the incident then they could have arrived at the child’s side in three minutes and provided emergency care and the young child’s life might have been saved. This situation is not logical in any way. Therefore our primary goal is to notify these private ambulances about medical emergencies in their vicinity in order to assist the people of Israel in need of help, wherever they may be. This will be done by using United Hatzalah’s dispatch center hotline of 1221,” Teitelbaum added.

Teitelbaum continued, “we’ve learned through our community-based network of medics, that faster arrival results in significantly improved patient response. When approached by United Ambulance of  Israel we saw the opportunity to be more inclusive and able to deploy whichever ambulance can be on scene the fastest, following the same model we’ve built with our medics. We’re revolutionizing the delivery of emergency medical response and this initiative is another example of how forward thinking will positively impact the lives of so many.”

Ephraim Feldman, who runs his own private ambulance company in addition to being the head of United Ambulance of Israel, also shared the frustration that too often in the past ambulances private ambulances were close by but unaware of an ongoing emergency. “The ability to take our ambulances and have them deployed like United Hatzalah’s medics is a far more efficient and effective use of our resources,” said Feldman. “Israelis, whether it is an individual incident or a mass-casualty situation, will greatly benefit from United Ambulance being alerted and able to respond quickly. Currently, more than 30 percent of all of the private ambulances in Israel have been activated using United Hatzalah’s advanced GPS technology and Lifecompass 2.0 program. The command center can now see where these ambulances are and dispatch them in real time based on who is closest to the incident.”

Feldman added that the program will provide a very big help during a national emergency: “During any war or conflict the new fleet of private ambulances will double the total amount of ambulances operated by Israel’s national ambulance service and will fill in the gaps that are often left by the current system allowing for the patient to reach the hospital faster by receiving transport from whichever ambulance arrives on the scene first.”