With the end of the Gregorian calendar year quickly approaching, United Hatzalah, Israel’s national volunteer emergency services organization, is expanding its efforts in Israel’s periphery. Having graduated 140 new EMTs in the month of October, the organization has added to the number of first responders in Haifa and Dimona, graduating another 50 EMTs this past week. In the coming month, an additional 150 volunteers are set to begin training to become emergency medical technicians and first responders in the Negev and Galilee before the year is out.

 The areas of the Negev and Galilee are in need of more manpower to provide a faster response to medical emergencies. With three new courses opening in the coming month in the Negev in the cities of Ashdod, Ashkelon and Netivot, and three in the Galilee, in Tevaria, Carmiel, and Nazareth, United Hatzalah is answering that call. Each course has between 20-30 participants already registered, with room for more. The result will be an additional 150-160 new EMTs in the periphery by the summer of 2017.

 The community-based assistance in both the Negev and Galilee is not solely focused on EMT courses. This past week, 15 women completed a Ten Kavod (Give Honor) training course in Ma’aleh Gilboa. Ten Kavod is a program designed to provide regular medical checkups to elderly individuals living alone within any given community and especially focuses on providing help to holocaust survivors. The volunteers received specialized training in geriatric care and will be visiting program participants at least twice a week to take their vital signs, follow up on their illnesses, and check if they need medication or extra care.

Ten Kavod Volunteers in Ma'aleh Gilboa Graduate Their Training Course Last Week. (Credit: United Hatzalah Gilboa Chapter)
Ten Kavod Volunteers in Ma’aleh Gilboa Graduate Their Training Course Last Week. (Credit: United Hatzalah Gilboa Chapter)

These volunteers often form close bonds of friendship with the elderly who otherwise have no one around to care for them. Volunteers of the Ten Kavod program provide the elderly not only with medical necessities but also with companionship and a listening ear. The program has been known to make a significant impact on the communities in which it operates. In addition to the Gilboa chapter, another Ten Kavod course recently finished in Tevaria, graduating 30 women who are already working within the community.

Deputy Mayor of Migdal Ha-Emek Nachum Assoulin, Regional Counsellor Yossi Menachem, and the head of Regional Welfare Services Ilana Peretz praised the new volunteers during their graduation ceremony and thanked them for volunteering in this special project.