Health Ministry seeks to keep rescue organizations

Director-general denounces Public Security Ministry’s efforts to take over supervising emergency medical, rescue organizations.

ZAKA volunteer at site of csr crash 370 (photo credit: Boaz Ben-Ari)
ZAKA volunteer at site of csr crash 370
(photo credit: Boaz Ben-Ari)
Health Ministry director-general Prof. Ronni Gamzu denounced on Wednesday the Public Security Ministry’s efforts to take over from his office responsibility for supervising emergency medical and rescue organizations such as Magen David Adom and United Hatzalah.
“They must remain under the watchful eye of the Health Ministry only,” Gamzu said at United Hatzalah’s annual two-day convention at Jerusalem’s Ramada Hotel. “No other ministry or body will receive responsibility for it, because it is illegal to do so. The Fire Service can be under the Public Security Ministry, but I will not agree to medical rescue being transferred to it because of vested interests.
It will remain in the Health Ministry, which is the natural place for it.”
Such services, said the director-general, “have to be evenly distributed around the country, including the periphery, and be as equitable as possible.
He noted that he started his own medical career as a medic.
“You are suddenly called to help the wounded and sick. You are the first to arrive. You have a surge of adrenalin and the feeling of responsibility for a person’s life on your shoulders. Just like a doctor must learn every day and read a lot of medical literature, a medic too must constantly educate himself; courses are not enough,” he said.
Attended by more than 100 men, the conference was the six-year-old volunteer organization’s third national gathering and included regional and district leaders of the medical rescue organization. Unlike MDA, which must charge for its service, United Hatzalah is based solely on volunteer work, with medics and paramedics arriving on ambucycles within minutes.
The target, said UH founder and president Eli Beer and its new director- general Yoni Gedj, is for help to arrive within 90 seconds because the volunteer lives or works nearby. The organization has grown from 350 volunteers six years ago to 2,000 today – haredi, modern Orthodox and secular Jewish men and some Arab men as well.
Beer said that UH has launched a new project called “Give Honor” in which medics “adopt” elderly people who live alone and have no family.
There are many people who die at home and no one is alerted immediately because they are alone. Only the smell of a decaying body alerts the police to the scene.
The UH volunteers, who are expected this year to “adopt” 500 more elderly people, will come and take the person’s blood pressure reading and his pulse and regularly call to make sure he is well. If he has a heart attack or stroke, we can find them in time to save his life and prevent permanent disability, Beer said.