The British Ambassador to Israel, David Quarrey, visited the headquarters of Israeli volunteer emergency medical service (EMS) organization United Hatzalah in Jerusalem, last Tuesday afternoon.
During the visit, Quarrey was introduced to a number of the organization’s community-based emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and toured the organization’s command and dispatch center, which utilizes cutting-edge proprietary GPS technology to achieve a response time of under three minutes nationwide, and under 90 seconds in major population centers such as Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
“I was delighted to visit United Hatzalah today to learn about its invaluable work. United Hatzalah saves countless lives and provides a vital service to society,” said Quarrey after his visit.
United Hatzalah has already exported its groundbreaking community-based volunteer approach to emergency medicine to seven countries around the globe. Currently the organization is partnered with sister organizations in Panama, Brazil, India, Bangladesh and a host of Western African countries to help them develop the life-saving model that has been so effective in Israel in their local communities. United Hatzalah’s affiliate organization in the U.S., United Rescue, inaugurated its first branch in Jersey City, NJ this year, and will soon be opening a second branch in Detroit, MI.
Dov Maisel, Director of International Operations at United Hatzalah, said, “Our model is effective because we harness the motivation of local people to serve their own community, while at the same time benefitting the wider community. In Israel, our volunteers are part of the community they serve. Arab volunteers serve the Arab community, and Jewish volunteers serve the Jewish community, and Druze volunteers serve the Druze community. Yet every one of our volunteers responds to emergency calls if they happen to be located near a medical emergency no matter which community the person in need is from. Thus, we find ourselves working side by side to provide a blanket of coverage for all citizens across the country, regardless of race, color or creed. That’s what makes us united, and it is why we are called United Hatzalah (Rescue). We are all united through life-saving.”
Maisel illustrated to Quarrey what defines a community and volunteer based medical response organization. “An ambulance-based EMS organization, cannot station an ambulance on every city street, it is simply impossible. However, by training and supplying thousands of volunteers with the knowledge and equipment that they need to be an emergency first responder, it is certainly within the realm of possibility to have a trained EMT volunteer on every city block. That is exactly what we are aiming for,” Maisel added.
United Hatzalah representatives are set to meet with leaders from the Manchester community in the U.K. in early July to see if the organization can replicate its successful model there. The goal is to help Manchester become the first city in England to build such a community-based volunteer emergency medical response. While contacts are still in the preliminary stages, the organization is hopeful of success, so that yet another city will benefit from its proven life-saving model that works so effectively in Israel.