Eli Beer, the founder and president of United Hatzalah, arrives onstage on an ambucycle at the AIPAC conference in Washington.
(photo credit: UNITED HATZALAH)
United Hatzalah founder and president Eli Beer made a dramatic entrance to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington as he zoomed onto the stage on his ambucycle.
The pro-Israel lobbyist organization named the Jerusalem- based, voluntary rescue and first-aid outfit as one that “advances innovation” and has spread its work of around the world.
Beer said that it has 2,500 trained volunteers in Israel, enabling it to reach ill or injured people in less than two minutes because the riders are “everywhere.” The specially equipped motorcycles are able easily to get through traffic that slows down regular ambulances, which take an average of 12 minutes to arrive.
After six months of first-aid training, volunteers – men and women, religious and secular Jews, Muslims, Druse and Christians – get a special app that informs them where to go to help those in medical need that are closest.
The 16,000 AIPAC participants applauded the orange-vested Beer warmly.
He established the organization in 2006 after remembering his frustration and fear at the age of six watching terrorism victims in his Jerusalem neighborhood crying out for help after their Egged bus was blown up.
“My parents came on aliya from the US in 1969, and I grew up in Jerusalem,” he recalled. “I decided to join an ambulance team, but even though I helped people, I didn’t manage to save even one life because the vehicle arrived too late.”
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He realized that ambulance motorcycles were needed to reach the victim faster.
Not long after, he used a scanner and learned that a 70-yearold man around the corner had been seriously injured in a road accident, bleeding even more profusely because he was taking anticlotting drugs. Beer removed his kippa from his head, folded it up, applying pressure with it onto the hole on the man’s throat, and was able to save him.
Beer told the AIPAC audience that Hatzalah volunteers treated 245,000 Israelis last year, including 27,000 children.
A quarter of the sick and injured were in life-threatening situations.
The volunteer-driven ambucycle idea has been adopted in Brazil, Panama, Mexico, Argentina, India, Rwanda and other countries. Some 200 volunteer medics in Jersey City are in training and by the summer they will be wearing the orange vest and saving people, Beer said. Chicago will be next.
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