One recent early afternoon, Sanaa Mahameed, a religious Muslim woman who volunteers with United Hatzalah, was at her home in Umm al-Fahm when the dispatch center alerted her to a car accident that had occurred on the road to the nearby town of Barta’a. Despite the fact that she was tired and not feeling particularly well, Sanaa darted out the door, jumped on her ambucycle and sped to the scene. 

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Sanaa Mahameed on her ambucycle

The accident had brought traffic to a standstill, but Sanaa was able to agilely navigate past the congestion, reaching the scene in a matter of minutes. She arrived to find a car, tha, after hitting another vehicle, had careened off the road and crashed into a tree. The driver of the car was still stuck inside but witnesses to the accident had managed to release her two children from the back seat. 


As the fire department’s special rescue unit and additional medics arrived to extricate and treat the driver, Sanaa led the children out of the hot sun and into an air-conditioned ambulance. One of the children, a 10-year-old boy, had cuts on his face and his 6-year-old sister had lacerations to her arm and leg. As Sanaa and her colleagues cleaned and bandaged their wounds, they talked calmly with the children, reassuring them that their mother would soon be out of the car and taken care of. One EMT waited with the children while Sanaa immobilized the now freed mother to a backboard and transferred her to a second ambulance. The entire family was evacuated to a regional hospital for further treatment.


“There are so many stories where people need help,” Sanaa said. “But I am not fazed. I continue to leave work, my house – morning, evening, the middle of the night, whenever someone needs help – it could be 2 a.m. or 3 a.m., and I will go. I have helped many people and I hope to continue helping. There is so much violence and so many accidents here and I feel it is my duty to help others no matter what time of day or night it is.” 


Sanaa was the first religious Muslim woman to drive one of the organization’s iconic ambucycles. “I know it is dangerous, but I am not afraid. I am brave. Driving an ambucycle helps me get to an emergency scene faster and I want to be the first one there to help,” said Sanaa who also works in a local medical clinic. “My family supports me and is very proud of what I do. Even though some people I meet think that this may be a job for a man, whenever I arrive to help them they always say thank you.” 

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