May 31, 2019
United Hatzalah (Hatzalah means Rescue in Hebrew), with its all-volunteer network of trained emergency first responders, has become a regular feature in Israel. It’s now going global.
United Hatzalah’s model is predicated on two facts. First, when it comes to emergency response, every second counts. An ambulance crew that’s too far away, gets stuck in traffic, misses a turn, or waits on a slow elevator can often mean the difference between life and death. Second, when someone has an emergency, there are almost always people nearer to the scene than the dispatched ambulance.
Average ambulance response times in Israel and the U.S. often exceed 10 minutes, depending on population density. Hatzalah’s volunteer medics average less than 3 minutes. In large cities, their average response time is 90 seconds. So, how do they do it?
United Hatzalah has trained volunteer medics throughout Israel who complete 180 hours of classroom instruction and 100 hours of field training before being certified.
There are now over 5,000 volunteers-secular and religious Jews, Muslims, Druze, and Christians, men and women, old and young, from every socioeconomic background-who all work together to save the lives of their neighbors in need. Over 3 million people have been treated to date.
The centralized dispatch center tracks the location of volunteers, including what equipment and training they have, via an app on volunteers’ phones. When a call comes in, the closest medics are immediately located and dispatched via the app. To deal with congested urban areas, Eli Beer invented the ambucycle-a medically equipped motorcycle that can race through traffic. There are now over 800 ambucycles deployed in Israeli cities.
In the U.S., a four-year-old program in Jersey City has 200 volunteers, and another branch is launching in Englewood, New Jersey. New York City could be on the horizon. Brandon Fuller, deputy director at the NYU Marron Institute of Urban Management, observes: “If United Rescue can do for New York what it has done on a smaller scale for Jersey City, it will save lives and promote the volunteerism that can strengthen communities across the city.” (Forbes)