Despite legislation passed three years ago, the government has yet to install heart defibrillators in public areas – forcing volunteer organization United Hatzalah to rely on donated devices to save lives.

One defibrillator, part of a generous donation to the rescue organization, restarted the heartbeat of a Jerusalem man – ironically the father of a UH volunteer. As the man walked with his grandson from the Bayit Vegan neighborhood towards the Western Wall, he suffered cardiac arrest. The first responders raced to the scene and used the defibrillator – contributed by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany – saving his life.

Aryeh, a UH volunteer who lives in the capital’s Rehavia neighborhood, carries the defibrillator, which the Claims Conference donated to save elderly Holocaust survivors but is available for the use of anyone in need of resuscitation.

The UH called Aryeh to the Mamilla mall, where within two minutes he bent over the collapsed man lacking a palpable pulse. He attached the electrodes and restarted the man’s heart.

“The feeling that you can save a life gives a lot of satisfaction, but the feeling that you have the privilege of saving the father of a fellow volunteer is amazing,” Aryeh said.

A 2009 law mandates that defibrillators be purchased with public funds and installed in public places around the country. Yet the legislation remains unfulfilled.

The Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry said in 2010 – a year after the law’s enactment – that it intended to establish regulations for the installation of the devices. The government will rely on private organization Magen David Adom’s assistance.

According to the ministry, one delay is a requirement specifying that clear, uniform signs are posted along with the devices.

Chief ministry labor inspector Yoram Elazari told the Knesset in 2010 that resuscitation fell outside the purview of the ministry. He asked the MDA to help with the installation process, along with the Israel Cardiologists Society and the Health Ministry for dealing with the licensing of equipment.

The Health Ministry said Sunday that it was not responsible for the law’s implementation and thus did not know the status of defibrillator installation When asked by The Jerusalem Post why three years later, defibrillators remain scarce across the country, the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry spokeswoman said that “the writing of regulations for the devices have now been completed.

“The regulations define the specific demands for the type of defibrillators approved, the way they will be installed in public places and signs, as well as for [supervising] the necessary examinations of the equipment,” she said.

According to the spokeswoman, “the final draft has been sent for public comments and will be presented for approval by the Knesset House Committee. In addition, an amendment is needed because carrying out the demands required a supervisory body with experience in giving urgent medical care. The amendment has been approved by the Ministerial Committee on Legislation and been presented to the Knesset for a final vote.”

In the meantime, people may die due to bureaucratic obstacles and a dire lack of defibrillators.

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