Last week, while Modi’in Illit was cut off from the world by floods caused by an
unusually strong storm system, a resident of the town went into
Her husband called an ambulance to help them get to a nearby
hospital amid the torrential rain and the strong gusts of wind, but because of
the storm, the roads were blocked and the ambulance could not enter the town or
get close to the mother-to-be.
In almost any other country this would
have meant that a pregnant woman and her husband would have faced the already
taxing process of childbirth without trained medical personnel in attendance.
Luckily enough, they live in Israel.
In Israel we are lucky to have an
organization – or rather, a network – called United Hatzalah. Two thousand
volunteers all around the country are there for you – possibly living or working
in a neighboring street or even building – when you are in need of medical
attention – trained medics, paramedics and doctors.
United Hatzalah has
volunteers from all sectors of Israeli society. From Kiryat Sefer to Kiryat
Shmona, from Kfar Chabad to Kafr Kasim and from Eilat to Ramat Hagolan. In
religious neighborhoods and secular kibbutzim and everywhere in between, Jewish,
Muslim and Christian volunteers all work together for a shared, greater good:
the saving of lives.
Why are they so dedicated? Many of our volunteers
have personal stories that motivate them. Some have needlessly lost family
members in medical incidents where they could have been saved had there been a
first responder on scene during those critical minutes before an ambulance
arrives. Some knew Hatzalah’s work from before and wanted to “join the
I personally am still under the effect of the bus bombing I
witnessed as a five-year-old on the way home from school. Since that moment I
just wanted to help – and wanted to gather those around me who had the same
goal. I wanted to be there for those who are in need of medical attention, a
pair of helping hands. To save lives.
In the case of the young woman in
Modi’in Illit, the father dialed 1-221 (United Hatzalah’s emergency number). Two
volunteers arrived to the couple’s home within minutes.
realized that the birth was progressing faster than expected, they stopped
focusing on preparing her for transportation and instead got the couple’s living
room ready for the birth. While the ambulance was waiting just outside of the
town, the volunteers calmed the parents-to-be down.
Thanks to their
prompt and proper medical attention a healthy, plump baby girl was born into a
very rainy, but safe world.
The writer is founder and president of United