Bus in Carmel fire 311.
(photo credit: Channel 10)
Eran, Israel’s emotional first aid center, reported an increase of 40 percent in
the number of calls for help it received this past weekend as fires raged on
Mount Carmel and thousands were evacuated from their homes, The Jerusalem Post
heard on Sunday.
Many of the calls were from relatives or friends who
lost loved ones in the bus fire that killed 40 people – 38 on board from the
Prisons Service and two policemen who tried to come to their aid, with other
calls coming from those who had been forced to leave their homes or from people
for whom this disaster revived memories of previous traumas such as the December
2008- January 2009 Gaza conflict, 2006’s Second Lebanon War, and wars going
Dr. Shiri Daniels, Eran’s director of counseling, said that
the hotline (1202) received around 520 calls a day over the past two days and
more than 60 requests for help via the Internet (www.eran.org.il). She said that
roughly 1,000 volunteers were brought in to answer phones and respond to
Internet requests for help.
“We are operating in an emergency mode,”
Daniels told the Post. “Our volunteers have been specially trained in how to
help people deal with such traumas and anxiety; they tell them that what they
are feeling is normal and give them hope for a better future.”
that many of the calls also came from people who had been glued to televised
coverage of the fire, which started on Thursday morning, and who were
“We’ve had people calling who say they have sat by the TV all
night and cannot stop crying,” said Daniels, adding that many of the calls also
came from parents worried about the effect this tragedy may have on their
Daniels emphasized that parents should monitor what their
children are watching on the almost constant news coverage of the disaster and
carefully explain what is going on.
“Focus on the positive side,” she
said. “Tell them about those who are being brave fighting the fires or about
those who are volunteering, make the child feel safe and
Meanwhile, Selah – Israel Crisis Management Center, which
provides assistance to the immigrant population during times of crisis, said it
had been working hard to help several families of olim who’s lost loved ones in
Selah’s director Ruth Bar- On told the Post that professionals
from the organization had already attended seven funerals, including that of
Ethiopian immigrant and father of three Seyum Tzege from Nahariya and Kiryl
Lengman, 28, whose wife is in her eighth month of pregnancy, from
“Our role is to be there at the funerals and make sure that the
families are getting the help that they need,” Bar- On said. “We are talking
about olim who do not have a strong family support system here and might need
help in their own languages.”
For many new immigrants this type of
disaster can be especially traumatic, because it can bring back memories of
events experienced before coming to Israel, she said.
“We meet personally
with each family and determine what its unique needs are; we then work to meet
those needs,” Bar-On said.