Member of Knesset and United Hatzalah emergency response volunteer Yinon Azoulai was on hand in Ashdod last Thursday to usher in the inauguration of Ashdod’s newest EMS response center. Also present was Ashdod Mayor Dr. Yechiel Lasry, a distinguished physician himself, who became an honorary United Hatzalah first responder. He was bequeathed a United Hatzalah a vest and a volunteer I.D. badge, becoming an honorary member of the more than 5,000 volunteers across the country who drop whatever they are doing and rush out to respond to medical emergencies in their vicinity. While Lasry has not committed to going on emergency calls with the organization, he did speak highly of the activities of the volunteers in his city and graciously accepted the honor of the appointment.

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Lasry (2nd from left) next to UH CEO Moshe Teitelbaum and UH volunteers from Ashdod.

During the inauguration, Lasry said: “It is written that anyone who saves even a single life has saved an entire world. United Hatzalah volunteers, I respect and appreciate you. A decade ago, you started off as a small chapter here in the city of Ashdod with less than 30 volunteers. Now you have more than 100 volunteers across the city. The people of the city appreciate and respect you and so do I.”

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Mayor Lasry’s UH ID card

The organization, whose volunteers have been saving lives in Ashdod for the past 12 years, celebrated a number of achievements during the special celebration which was held in their new center that was donated by the city as well as a number of generous philanthropists. “The city and a number of sponsors felt that it was time to give back to the organization by inaugurating its first volunteer house and educational headquarters in the city,” said Avi Amar, regional United Hatzalah spokesperson.

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Sign above newly inaugurated EMS training and volunteers center

Amar said that the building, a converted bomb shelter located on number 1 HaHistadrut Street, will serve as the local branch office, an educational center to train local volunteer responders, a volunteer house for cultural events that the chapter holds and a location for EMS enrichment classes for the volunteers as well as the local community. “The center will act as a secondary protected medical emergency location in case the city comes under attack like it did during Operation Protective Edge in 2014 or other national emergencies,” Amar added. In addition to being one of the city’s most active ambucycle responders, Amar also works as a police officer in the region.

In addition to the new EMS center, two new ambucycles, the iconic vehicle of the organization, of which there are close to 800 on the streets of Israel, were inaugurated during the evening as well.

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New ambucycles in Ashdod

President and Founder of United Hatzalah Eli Beer, said: “I am proud of the dedication shown by all of our volunteers in the city of Ashdod. The city has truly benefited from the hard work and drive of these special volunteers who live there and provide emergency services for free to all residents of the city, regardless of background or religion. I look forward to continuing to grow our chapter and presence in the city.”

MK Yinon Azoulai said: “I am proud to be a part of the family of first responders that is United Hatzalah. From my perspective, this is the greatest satisfaction that one could have and I will declare that in every forum I can. I personally would like to thank the Mayor, Dr. Yechiel Lasry for his continued help to United Hatzalah.”