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Save An Uncle, Save a City – How One Muslim EMT Created a Revolution In His City
For more than sixteen years Marwan Masarwe has worked as an ambulance driver and EMT. He used to go to work, help people while doing his job and then head home. But three years ago his daily routine changed, and so did the level of EMS response in his entire home city of Taibe.
“Three years ago, my uncle suffered a heart attack and collapsed on the floor of his home. My family, who was shocked by what had suddenly happened called an ambulance. They also called me as they know that I have the knowledge of how to help him. I rushed over and arrived in just a few minutes and began treating my uncle. The ambulance took a very long time to arrive. The fact that I had arrived in as short a time as I did, and began treating him, saved his life. This incident is what caused me to realize that I could help save lives when I am home and off-duty as well,” said Masarwe.
Masarwe put his thought into action and approached United Hatzalah in an effort to open a chapter of volunteer responders in Taibe. He worked with the organization and developed a team of 15 fully trained and equipped responders just about a year later. “I approached people who lived in Taibe and who worked in the EMS field. Some were paramedics, while others were EMTs. When we started, we had 15 volunteers, now, just two years later we have double that number. People used to wait anywhere between 10 to 30 minutes for an ambulance in Taibe. Now, they wait less than three minutes for a volunteer EMT or paramedic to begin administering treatment.”
Masarwe’s rationale was to eradicate the time spent waiting by people waiting for an ambulance to arrive. “If it takes an ambulance a long time to arrive, say 20 minutes or more, than, in most serious cases the patient could, and often does, die while waiting for medical intervention. If we have people from the community who have the training and equipment necessary, then we can intervene and begin treatment while the patient waits for the ambulance team to arrive,” he said.
Masarwe became the head of the new chapter in Taibe and he and his team of volunteer responders, who are all Muslim, provide treatment for residents of the city as well as the outlying towns, which include numerous Jewish towns as well.
“Lifesaving will always be a part of who I am. Now, I have become prouder of my involvement in the field. I am thankful that United Hatzalah has provided me and my fellow responders with a system that is capable of providing EMS services to anyone, anywhere and at all times.”
Masarwe is one 330 Muslim volunteers with United Hatzalah across Israel who provide free emergency medical services to anyone in need in their vicinity regardless of race, gender or religion.
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