Avi Amar is United Hatzalah volunteer EMT who lives in Ashdod. He has been working in emergency services his entire adult life, from the time he finished his mandatory military service, he has worked with the Police making sure that the streets of his hometown of Ashdod and the surrounding area are safe. In addition to the responsibilities of his professional life, he has also taken upon himself the extra duties of being a volunteer first response EMT and the Ashdod Chapter’s media spokesperson.
“There is a certain amount of responsibility I feel knowing that I have the ability to help others,” said Amar who is one of the most active volunteers in the area and rides a Kawasaki Versus 1000 cc ambucycle to the scenes of emergencies. As the veteran motorcycle rider, Amar often responds to emergency calls on Highways and thus was given the high-speed emergency-response vehicle by United Hatzalah in order to provide the fastest response possible.
Amar recounted a recent emergency that he responded to that held special significance to him as it involved a first responder getting injured while responding to an emergency with him. “While I was driving home on the 16th of July, United Hatzalah’s national dispatch and command center notified me to a two-car collision that took place on Highway 4 just outside of Rishon LeZion, Israel’s fourth largest city. I happened to be nearby at the time and dispatch identified me as one of the closest responders. I flipped on the lights and sirens on my ambucycle and rushed over to the scene of the motor vehicle accident. I arrived in less than three minutes and by the time I got there, another ambucycle driver from the organization had already arrived. I saw that one of the cars was upside-down on its roof and that between the two vehicles six people were injured. Each one had suffered a different injury and most were moderate to lightly injured. The second driver miraculously escaped injury completely.
The Fire Department was called since a number of people were trapped inside the upside-down car. While waiting for them to arrive, I assessed the status of the patients inside the vehicle and began treating what I could from outside the vehicle without touching it or causing it to tilt. The other volunteer treated the patient who was outside of the two vehicles. The Fire department arrived and we worked together to extricate the trapped patients. While one of the firefighters was taking a preliminary look at the two vehicles, another oncoming car whose driver didn’t see the firefighter on the highway struck the firefighter who sustained a serious head injury and was in moderate condition.”
Amar stopped what he was doing, and rushed to aid to the firefighter. “I recall the sudden screech of brakes and an awful shriek as the car tried in vain to slow down to avoid hitting my fellow rescue team member. While the braking likely saved the man’s life, it didn’t prevent him from getting hit completely. I rapidly switched focus and began treating the injured firefighter as his injuries were far more pressing than those of the people trapped in the car. Police, EMS personnel, and firefighters worked in tandem making every effort to ensure the scene was safe to treat the firefighter. Police stopped all traffic and blocked off the entire roadway. They kept the scene sterile until all seven people had been treated, stabilized, and evacuated by ambulance.”
The scenario left a mark for Amar who has been on many sides of securing traffic accidents both as a police officer and as an EMT. “It was a bit traumatic for everyone at the scene. We all knew that it could have been any of us who were hit that night. The driver was coming at high speeds and was looking to avoid the accident without thinking about those assisting in the incident,” Amar said. “A fellow firefighter began to hyperventilate after seeing what happened to his friend. I treated him as well. The whole incident left its mark on me and the other responders at the scene. I am happy to have been able to have been there and treated both firefighters and the original six patients and provide them with the treatments that I knew how to administer. That is what I and the other EMS responders are trained to do and that is what we did. Thankfully, everyone is expected to recover. Some will have long roads of rehabilitation, but no lives were lost that day and that is thanks to the professionalism of all the first responders who worked together as a team that night.”
In addition to responding to emergencies, Amar helps coordinate the chapter’s activities and media relations as the local spokesperson for Ashdod and Lachish. “We want to be welcoming to our entire community, and to the communities that we serve. People of all backgrounds and religions, no matter who you are, or what you believe, you have a place with United Hatzalah should you choose to join us. That is an important message in any society, but especially in Israel, which can be very polarizing on issues such as religion and politics. In United Hatzalah, we believe that if a person values the importance of saving lives, then that is the idea that we can all relate to, no matter what else we believe, that ideal can unify us, and it does.”
Amar said that the entire chapter of volunteers works together to help save lives and when needed help each other. “There is a camaraderie that is felt here, both when we are at a scene and in the field, as well as in our regular day-to-day lives. The volunteers often become close friends and this just makes our team work better when we respond to emergencies together. The better we know one another, the better we can assist one another when the time comes, and it does, often. I am proud to be part of such a brotherhood of lifesavers,” Amar concluded.