Ashdod woman dies after medic is mistakenly told it wasn’t an emergency

Erroneous information came from Magen David Adom, according to United Hatzalah volunteer.

United Hatzalah (photo credit: UNITED HATZALAH‏)
United Hatzalah
(photo credit: UNITED HATZALAH‏)
A woman died in Ashdod this week because of “erroneous information” that Magen David Adom provided on the case at its emergency number, according to a volunteer medic of United Hatzalah, Israel Radio and other sources reported on Wednesday morning.
According to the radio report, the Hatzalah emergency medical service received notice of a woman suffering from respiratory difficulties who needed urgent treatment. The Hatzalah responder contacted MDA’s emergency facility in the city but said he was told by the national ambulance service that “there was not an emergency that warranted getting to the spot.”
A few hours later, Hatzalah learned that indeed there was an emergency and that the woman needed resuscitation, which she did not get. The family said that when an MDA ambulance finally arrived, late, the medics declared her dead.
There has been much tension and a lack of harmony for years between MDA – the national ambulance, blood supply and first aid service which by law must charge for all its services – and the fully volunteer UH, which provides its services free of charge.
MDA insists that to receive accurate and speedy information, all Hatzalah medics must download MDA’s app. Hatzalah counters that the MDA app is “inferior” to the one Hatzalah developed and only includes part of the information needed to arrive at the exact location of an emergency.
“We have looked into using the application for our volunteers and have found it to be insufficient,” the United Hatzalah spokesman’s office said in a statement.
MDA spokesman Zaki Heller told The Jerusalem Post that the matter was a “big lie that United Hatzalah people are spreading intentionally because of their financial interests. The specific on-duty medic who called the MDA number did so after receiving the call and all the details, as he received during five additional calls for help that same day, in which he also received exact details.”
As for the incident, “Apparently this involved a human error for which the [Hatzalah] medic was sent to a similar emergency event same time in the same city. The matter is being investigated. Contrary to the false claims of United Hatzalah,” he said, every medic is instructed to download the app which MDA’s emergency center uses to transfers information to all on-duty medics in 20 different rescue organizations, and that happened in this case as well.
Any claim that an organization or some Hatzalah rescue workers are kept out of the loop, he concluded, is “cynical use of an unfortunate event, slander and no more.”
Hatzalah volunteers often arrive within three minutes due to their community-based response program and speedy ambucycles, while MDA’s ambulances are known to arrive later due to traffic and other problems.
Asked to comment, the Health Ministry spokesman said it regarded with much importance the “pre-hospitalization emergency services available” and that it was vital to shorten reaction times of medics and paramedics.
The ministry added that a year ago, “in cooperation with the two organizations, it set down operational outlines so that medics who are closest to the scene can arrive quickly and treat the patient no matter whether the medics belong to UH or MDA. But so far, it has not been fully implemented for various reasons. The ministry is working with the two organizations to bring about the optimum functioning of medics in emergencies,” the spokesman said.