MKs tell United Hatzala, MDA to end their dispute

MK Yitzhak Galanti: Issue mainly about prestige; MDA: Problem is with unlicensed paramedics.

mda ambulance 224.88 (photo credit: MDA)
mda ambulance 224.88
(photo credit: MDA)
After a two-month dispute between Magen David Adom and United Hatzala - which the Health Ministry didn't know about - a Knesset committee has urged the two lifesaving groups on Monday to settle their differences. United Hatzala, established by haredim according to a US model and mostly serving observant neighborhoods, has been disconnected by MDA from its wireless communications system. The subject was raised in the Knesset Labor, Social Affairs and Health Committee by MK Avshalom Vilan, who said "it's a scandal that because of silly disputes with other lifesaving organizations, MDA is cynically endangering human life." Committee chairman MK Yitzhak Galanti said he had the feeling that the issue was mainly about prestige. United Hatzala representative Eli Bir said it was making great efforts to persuade MDA to reconnect United Hatzala volunteers to MDA's communications system so that whoever was closer could arrive on the scene first. "All we want to do is to continue to be allowed to save lives. All our volunteers were trained by MDA, and we would get rid of anyone who was not. All our equipment is of the highest quality, and we purchase it from the supplier that MDA uses,"said Bir. Eli Yaffe of MDA countered that it would be happy to accept every volunteer who operates according to the MDA's directives and criteria. However, the nationwide first-aid and ambulance service fears "that calls for help received by MDA stations are transferred by special technology and 'chain communications' to people who are not authorized to hear them. The patients and victims think the person who has come is a trained MDA medic, but he may not necessarily be so. Thus we don't want to allow volunteers who are not MDA personnel or volunteers to get calls made to MDA branches." Dr. Michael Dor, the head of the Health Ministry's general medicine branch, conceded that he had not been informed of the dispute and asked the committee for a week to convene a meeting of all those involved. Finally, Galanti said that both MDA and United Hatzala save lives and do holy work. The committee called on MDA to resolve the dispute immediately and restore communications with its volunteers.