MDA MEDICS evacuate a Palestinian attacker in Jerusalem after a stabbing in October.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
After Magen David Adom announced Friday that due to budgetary problems it has been forced to reduce ambulance and first-aid services in Judea, Samaria and the northern border region, the voluntary organization United Hatzalah said Sunday that it will boost its services to residents of the areas.
United Hatzalah recommending that residents of the territories begin using the emergency number 1221, which directly contacts its national dispatch center, in an effort to reduce emergency medical service response time.
United Hatzalah chief executive officer Moshe Teitelbaum said: “After receiving the press release issued by MDA, we understand that the ambulance service is cutting back on its coverage due to not having received the full budget that was allotted to it by the Amana housing commission that is partly in charge of these areas [in Judea and Samaria].
“This situation may result in the harming of residents of these areas and may even cost lives. As a volunteer organization that is dedicated to saving lives, we cannot sit idly by,” he said.
“Therefore, we will be increasing our coverage and activity in Judea, Samaria and the northern border and continue to do so. We have instructed our volunteers to be on heightened alert and ready for multiple emergency calls. We are already transferring extra equipment to our chapters and volunteers in these areas. United Hatzalah has instructed its chapters and volunteers to increase their activities and coverage in these areas in an effort to minimize the risk of death or aggravated injury due to a lack of EMS response.”
United Hatzalah founder and president Eli Beer added that “in the coming days we will be investigating the possibility of transferring our ambulances to Judea and Samaria and the northern border, and even the possibility of purchasing numerous additional ambulances in order to provide proper coverage to the area and fill the gap left by this turn of events.”
Those who call will get “an immediate and comprehensive response and alert our volunteers in the area. All of our responders are volunteers, and there is no charge for the emergency services that we provide for public health and safety.”
In his Friday statement, MDA director-general Eli Bin said that after a year in which Amana and government officials said that payment for ambulance services in Judea and Samaria would be arranged, MDA was again facing “a hopeless situation,” as nothing has been settled.
Without getting money for salaries, gasoline, insurance and maintenance, there will be a deficit that could influence our activities around the country, he continued. “We were promised NIS 7.5 million but received only NIS 5m., and we can’t endanger MDA’s financial situation, so I have instructed MDA’s chief operations officer to transfer responsibility for the operation of some services in the West Bank and the northern border back to the communities.”
Meanwhile, MDA had its hands full on New Year’s Eve, treating hundreds of people who fell ill or were hurt due to drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and getting involved in road accidents and violent brawls.
A total of 35 people were hurt in accidents; 40 were hurt in violent incidents (including stabbings); and 83 teenagers and adults who took ill due to getting drunk were treated. A man in his early 30s fell out of a 10th-story window onto a ninth-floor balcony and survived. Sixteen people were treated for fainting.
In addition, nine women in labor were taken to hospitals to deliver their babies.