Following numerous instances where volunteer first responders from United Hatzalah were physically attacked while responding to medical emergencies in the cities of Kfar Saba and Ra’anana, the organization has begun free self-defense training sessions for volunteers in these cities. The training course is a three-part series that gives the first responders the basic skills of how to defend themselves or their patients at a scene that sees violence take place.

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Participants in the Self-Defense class

“As part of our EMT training classes, we teach all of our responders that scene safety is the most important factor that an EMT needs to consider when approaching a scene. It is the protocol to only enter a scene once it is safe. In spite of that, over the past few months, our volunteers have encountered numerous instances of violence where the scene was deemed safe at the onset of the incident but then spiraled into a situation where our volunteers themselves were attacked by someone at the scene. These people are often the patients themselves who took a few minutes to regain their strength before lashing out at someone at the scene,” explained Nitzan Reich, Chapter Head of United Hatzalah for Ra’anana and Kfar Saba.


Reich initiated the course after his volunteers were attacked and sent a message to the other chapter heads of the organization around the country inviting volunteers from other chapters who likewise suffered attacks to join the course. 


“The list for course if full, but we will make room to other first responders who have suffered violence in order to show our support for them,” he wrote in the message. 


Reich explained some of the difficulties faced by first responders who drop whatever they are doing to go treat an injured person only to be attacked themselves. “These instances were times when there was serious violence taking place and police were also at the scene. For many of our volunteers, these instances have been the first time that they were in these types of situations where they themselves were attacked. Even though police resecured the scenes quickly, our volunteers were left with dilemmas regarding how to proceed. Are they allowed to treat the person who just attacked them? How should they proceed?” 


“We are trying to give our volunteers tools to use in the field so that they can better learn how to identify potential threats so as to prevent an attack as well as what to do in cases where nothing else works and they do get attacked,” Reich added. “We’ve invited professional trainers who have dealt with these scenarios before and we are starting with one round of self-defense sessions. We will see if there is more demand on behalf of the volunteers after this initial course concludes.” 


The first class took of the current course took place on Thursday evening last week in Kfar Saba and saw more than 20 first responders from Kfar saba and the surrounding area learn new techniques.