Nechama Loebel, who has been deaf since birth, has become the first Deaf person to successfully become an EMT in Israel. Last week, Loebel (30) graduated her EMT training course and will soon become a full-fledged EMT, as part of Israel’s national volunteer EMS organization United Hatzalah. “This is a dream come true for me,” said an excited Loebel. “I’ve always wanted to volunteer as an EMT-first-responder who can save lives. I am so happy that United Hatzalah has given me the opportunity to become an EMT even with the challenges I face. This is not a responsibility that I take lightly. While I will be volunteering with United Hatzalah as an EMT, I will also be working to get members of the Deaf community involved in first-aid and EMT courses throughout the country, so that they too can help contribute to the life-saving works that United Hatzalah is doing.”
Representatives from United Hatzalah explained that in spite of Loebel being deaf, she is fully capable of answering emergency calls and working together with other volunteers to help treat people in need of emergency medical care. United Hatzalah Emergency Medical Service (EMS) responders including EMTs, paramedics and doctors, will be helping Loebel in the field and will provide her with alternate solutions to the audible stimuli that are necessary to properly treat injured and sick people at the scenes of medical emergencies.
“The staff in the field will have the responsibility to help Nechama be as effective as possible in responding to all of the medical emergencies that we have become so equipped at handling,” said United Hatzalah Founder Eli Beer. “We are proud to provide an inclusive framework for members of the population who are Deaf and hearing-impaired. We hope that Nechama’s successful inclusion in our ranks will mean a more inclusive attitude within Israeli society in general.”
One of the ways that Loebel will be assisted in the field is via the organization’s unique LifeCompass technology. By using the technology that will be installed on her phone, Loebel will be notified by a vibration to medical emergencies in her area. She will be given detailed instructions written on her phone regarding the location as well as what type of emergency that she will be facing. The LifeCompass system, developed in cooperation with NowForce, draws a virtual perimeter around an incident that has been entered into the system. It alerts only the medics in a predetermined radius to the incident. Loebel, similar to other volunteers will only be called to an incident in her area. The visual instructions will help walk her through the background of the incident as well as allow her to communicate to a dispatcher visually via the camera on her phone.
Beer added that this has been the policy of United Hatzalah from its inception. “From the very beginning of United Hatzalah we have been an organization that believes in unifying medical personnel from all segments of Israeli society. We are breaking down new barriers and including among our many volunteers, people with disabilities, who will work as part of our EMS family to help protect public health and the society in which we all live.”