Starting in February, all emergency calls that Magen David Adom receives will
also be accessible to United Hatzalah’s volunteer rescuers, according to
instructions that the Health Ministry issued on Monday night.
president and founder of United Hatzalah, an organization with 2,200 volunteer
medics and hundreds of motorcycles, told The Jerusalem Post he was overjoyed
over the decision, which takes effect on February 1.
MDA ’s emergency
number is 101, while Hatzalah’s number is 1221. From February 1, all calls to
101 will also be sent automatically to Hatzalah volunteers. The rules were set
down by ministry director- general Prof. Ronni Gamzu.
Although there are
140 private ambulance companies in Israel, only MDA and the eight-year-old
United Hatzalah, whose volunteers are often the first to arrive on the scene on
their wellequipped “ambu-cycles,” are national organizations.
last five years, Beer said, it has been increasingly difficult for Hatzalah to
operate, as MDA would not share the calls for help that it received via its
emergency phone number with the newer organization.
“MDA regarded us a
competition, as a threat. We had to use scanners to listen in to MDA calls so we
could send a volunteer immediately. Now we’ll be able to save more lives. That’s
all we’re interested in,” Beer said.
Unlike Hatzalah, which raises all
its funds from donors and does not charge for any of its services, MDA has for
years been obligated to charge for every service it provides.
ministry directives are a “wonderful first step,” Beer said. “In the long term,
we would like to see a ‘911’ system” with a single number for all rescue calls
received anywhere in the country; those rescuers who are closest could take