On a recent Motzei Shabbat, at the home of Gila and Richie Katz, the New Rochelle community came together to hear about United Hatzalah of Israel. The Katzes’ personal interest in the organization provided the opportunity for attendees to appreciate United Hatzalah of Israel’s life-saving work.
United Hatzalah of Israel is the largest independent, non-profit, fully volunteer emergency medical service organization that provides the fastest and free emergency medical first response throughout Israel. United Hatzalah’s service is available to all people regardless of race, religion or national origin. It is a first-response organization that is for the people, by the people. United Hatzalah attributes its success to three things:
1. The organization has a group of more than 3,500 volunteers around the country who are passionate about what they do. They are available around the clock—24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Volunteers come from all walks of life—men, women, Jewish, Arab, Christian, Druze—all working together to save lives.
2. Israel’s top-notch technology enables each and every responder to have a phone equipped with a GPS system and traffic navigators who make sure time is not wasted. The unique GPS system locates the five closest volunteers to any scene and then sends them the coordinates and directions through Waze once they accept the call. It is like the Uber of lifesaving.
3. United Hatzalah’s fully equipped iconic ambucycles (motorcycle ambulances) have everything an ambulance has except for a stretcher. Ambucycles do not get stuck in traffic; they can travel on sidewalks and go between cars. Volunteers who drive ambucycles take them to work and everywhere else they go. There are currently 650 ambucyles on the road.
Eli Beer, founder and president of United Hatzalah of Israel, explained that United Hatzalah is “not there to replace ambulances. We are there to fill the gap between the ambulance call and the time before they arrive. We save people who would not be saved.” Beer told many stories of people who were stabilized and alive because of United Hatzalah’s average response time of three minutes across the country and 90 seconds in metropolitan areas. Officially founded in 2006, United Hatzalah of Israel has saved 2.5 million people and today responds to an average of 1,000 calls per day.
Dov Maisel, COO and director of international operations for United Hatzalah, explained that the organization has gone global, with offices in Panama, Brazil and India and other countries as well. Maisel said, “We are connecting communities together to save lives.” In Israel, Jews and Arabs work hand-in-hand to save lives.
Beer, who likened United Hatzalah to “a lifesaving flash mob,” has received many accolades including the Israel Presidential Volunteerism Award, The Social Entrepreneur of Israel Award, Young Global Leaders of the World Economic Forum Award and the Victor J. Goldberg Prize for Peace in the Middle East, for his effort in expanding his program into East Jerusalem.
When the Katz family visited United Hatzalah of Israel’s command center in Jerusalem, they were taken by the importance of the organization and donated an ambucycle in memory of Shirley Katz, wife of Bernie Katz, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. At a moving ceremony in Israel, the family gathered to honor Shirley and view the ambucycle bearing her name. Sharon and Peter Spenser, also from New Rochelle, donated an ambucycle in memory of both sets of parents, Dr. Joseph and Sylvia Newmark and Ronald and Adele Spenser.
For additional information about United Hatzalah of Israel, please visit www.IsraelRescue.org.
By Yvette Finkelstein