Electric mini ambulance United Hatzalah.
(photo credit: UNITED HATZALAH)
After denying last week that budgetary problems would curtain its ambulance service in Judea and Samaria, Magen David Adom announced Monday that, until further notice, it would halt the functioning of some of its ambulances during the night shift.
Heads of the settlements would have to take responsibility for treating and evacuating sick and injured people as they did before the national ambulance and first-aid service took it over, MDA said.
MDA staffers who complete their shift at 7 p.m. will have to bring the ambulance’s keys to the guard at the entrance of the settlement. The Health Ministry will coordinate with the head of the settlement’s council regarding who will operate each vehicle, MDA said.
The all-volunteer first-aid and rescue organization United Hatzalah, which learned of the MDA problem, decided last week to increase its coverage of Judea and Samaria to prevent the loss of life. In addition, Hatzalah will be repositioning some of its ambulances there to transport injured and sick people to hospitals if necessary.
After MDA director-general Eli Bin reportedly told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also acting health minister, that it was cutting back services in the territories, MDA said the missing funds were promised to them after all. But on Sunday, MDA officials told Miri Cohen, the Health Ministry official supervising rescue services, that it was curtailing services.
MDA has a large fleet of ambulances operated by paid staffers and volunteers, whose services must by be paid for by law; the organization is paid even for services provided by its volunteers. Hatzalah has a very small number of ambulances, instead providing most of its free services via volunteers on special motorcycles, bicycles and electric cars.
Hatzalah founder and president Eli Beer said: “We learned from various media publications that due to a conflict over a budget, MDA is threatening to halt its services in Judea and Samaria and that this situation may cause a loss of life. The organization believes that helping the residents of these areas is of the utmost importance.”
Beer added that Hatzalah’s 4,000 volunteers are spread all across Israel with the goal of arriving at the scene of any medical emergency in under three minutes, and that all of its services are free of charge. “If there are any more doctors or paramedics in the area who wish to volunteer with United Hatzalah, they are welcome to contact the organization via its website,” he said.
MDA spokesman Zaki Shapira commented only that “any query about this issue must be referred to the Knesset Finance Committee and the heads of settlements in Judea and Samaria.”