Eli Beer, Founder and President of the Israeli volunteer EMS organization United Hatzalah spoke twice at the AIPAC conference last week that took place in Washington. Beer spoke about his own inspirational story and about the organization which he brought into existence which is now the largest all-volunteer EMS organization
in Israel and boasts over 3,000 volunteers across the country and from the entire spectrum of Israeli society. Beer also spoke about the work that United Hatzalah does saving lives internationally and demonstrated how Israel provides humanitarian aid around the world.
“The united in United Hatzalah is about uniting to save lives, anyone that wants to save a life, no matter who they are, can be a volunteer and save lives with us,” said Beer, whose organization includes Jewish, Arab, and Christian volunteer EMS personnel in a country that has deep religious divides.
“When I was six years old I saw a bus blow up in front of my house. And the scene of people running out of the bus and people being killed lead me to the dream of saving lives when I grow up. I volunteered on an ambulance when I was 15 years old. I realized how long it took us as an ambulance to get to the scene of an emergency, not because we didn’t want to get there, we couldn’t due to the traffic.”
Beer said that the experience of not being able to arrive to a choking call for 21 minutes due to traffic once again changed how he looked at the medical field. “After the call I began to assemble a small group of fifteen volunteers to help save lives who could arrive on the local scene as quickly as possible. My goal was to save just one life and we did in the first week that we were working. I saved a 70 year-old man’s life he was hurt from a car and was bleeding he needed someone to stop the bleeding and I did. I had no bandages so I used my yarmulka and it saved his life. He woke up in the hospital two days later. Since then our organization has gone from 15 volunteers to 3,000 volunteers and so far we have treated 1.6 million people.
Eli told his incredible story at the AIPAC conference this past week where he met with numerous high-ranking American and Israeli political figures to share his message of United Hatzalah and having a volunteer based emergency response organization that can help unite a community and save lives by empowering medically trained volunteers to arrive at the scene of an emergency in under three minutes. Among the people that Eli met and introduced United Hatzalah to was Congressman Steny Hoyer who works as the Democratic whip in the House as well as the Congressman from the 5th district in Maryland.
Hoyer, who has been serving as a Congressman since 1981, upon hearing about United Hatzalah was so enamoured with the idea that he told Eli Beer that “you need to open one of these right now in D.C.”
Hoyer himself has been a big supporter of Israel over the years, and has supported Israeli innovation in many fields. The EMS rescue field it appears is no different.
Beer also spoke with Mayor Steve Fulop of Jersey City about continuing to bring the Israeli of United Hatzalah rescue services to the city, a project which has already begun and is set to graduate its second class of volunteer EMTs towards the end of April. The total number of volunteer EMS personnel working with the Jersey City version of United Hatzalah, an organization that goes by the name of United Rescue will be over one hundred following the graduation. The model of United Hatzalah and United Rescue is also being copied in other U.S. cities and locations around the world. The next U.S. city to adopt the model will be Detroit which hopes to see its first class of volunteer EMT graduates complete their courses and begin working this summer.
Dovi Maisel the Director of International Operations for United Hatzalah and also a volunteer paramedic with the organization said in reference to Eli Beer’s speech that it was incredibly important for United Hatzalah to present its ideas at the AIPAC conference. “AIPAC is one of the biggest annual gatherings for people to come together from all over the world and learn how to stand up for Israel. To be invited back for a second year is amazing. As someone who is a volunteer paramedic in Israel, the fact that we can share with more than 18,000 people what United Hatzalah is doing in terms of saving lives is special.”
Mark Gerson an American investor and businessman who is the co-founder and chairman of the Gerson Lehrman Group also felt that having United Hatzalah present at AIPAC was of utmost importance. “United Hatzalah is serving as the perfect model for the world, now being in Brazil, Panama,and Jersey City to name just a few locations that are implementing the Israeli strategy. Being able to share the special work with the people who attend AIPAC is so important.”
With Hoyer’s support as well as the support of those like him, United Hatzalah may succeed at bringing the lifesaving network, technology and capabilities of the Israeli innovative model to other cities around the U.S. in the coming years.