A day in the life of United Hatzalah.
United Hatzalah of Israel is a Jerusalem-based nonprofit emergency medical service providing the most expedient yet free emergency medical first response services in Israel. Their mission is to provide the fastest first response service possible stabilizing patients and saving lives until an ambulance arrives or other medical professionals are able to take over.
“It doesn’t matter who the person is,” Nedal Sader, a Palestinean first responder and nurse volunteering with the Orthodox-run rescue service since 2012 told the Jerusalem Post. “Whoever needs help most gets help first.”
Established in 2006, United Hatzalah operates on approximately 5,000 volunteers, an annual budget equivalent to $12,000 USD, LifeCompass 2.0 GPS technology, and ambucycles (medically equipped motorcycles), servicing emergencies throughout Israel 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The charity's average response time is less than 3 minutes cross-country, and 90 seconds in urban areas. GPS technology has helped volunteers respond to over 2.5 million emergencies and save millions of lives.
Sadar told the Times of Israel that he joined the volunteer organization to offer increased medical assistance to the under-served and impoverished Arab Quarter in the Old City and other ethnic neighborhoods in East Jerusalem where medical services are limited and poverty is more rampant.
Though a primarily Israeli volunteer base, United Hatzakah does maintain approximately 300 Muslim, Christian, and Druze emergency medical personnel, paramedics, and other medical professionals on its volunteer workforce. This diversity in volunteer demographics facilitates servicing medical emergencies in ethnic neighborhoods where national and regional security concerns render it illegal for Jewish medics to enter villages and other areas without police escort.
In addition to traditional emergency response services, United Hatzalah this past summer launched a new initiative dispatching midwives and trained OB-GYN professionals throughout the country to assist with home births, Breaking Israel News reported. Approximately 200 calls daily pertain to emergencies involving complications involving labor and child delivery.
“We already had two births in Jerusalem on our first day,” Raphael Poch, International Media Spokesperson for United Hatzalah, told Breaking Israel News.
“Our first responders are trained to handle routine births that go without any problems. But if something goes wrong in a birth, it gets very complicated very fast. That’s when special training is essential. In those situations, we tell our first responders to not touch anything and to just get the mother to the hospital as fast as possible.”
Though launched as a pilot project only in Jerusalem proper, the initiative is expected to expand nationwide with the early levels of success and the verified need for such services.
“As someone who works in delivery rooms, I see that the EMS teams, as good as they are, are often inexperienced when it comes to instances of active home labors,” Dr. Aryeh Jaffe, OB-GYN at Sha’are Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem and a volunteer paramedic for United Hatzalah told Breaking News Israel. “As a paramedic in the field, I have helped 55 women deliver their babies. Today, as I conduct deliveries daily, I see how much was lacking from the training I received as an EMS responder.”
“The difference between giving birth with a properly trained midwife or without one can be the difference between life and death both for the mother and infant, or an injury sustained by the infant that can accompany the child for the rest of its life,” Dr. Jaffe continued. “I thought that it would be beneficial to patients all over the country to create this unit and be able to dispatch trained personnel who would be able to respond and give the proper level of care needed to mothers all over the country.”
Written by Erin Parfet