Health Ministry to require MDA to inform United Hatzalah of all emergencies

Although there are 140 private ambulance companies in Israel, only the eight-year-old UH and MDA are national organizations.

mda van at beach 370 (photo credit: Omer Tadmor)
mda van at beach 370
(photo credit: Omer Tadmor)
Starting in February, all emergency calls that Magen David Adom receives will also be accessible to United Hatzalah’s volunteer rescuers, according to instructions that the Health Ministry issued on Monday night.
Eli Beer, president and founder of United Hatzalah, an organization with 2,200 volunteer medics and hundreds of motorcycles, told The Jerusalem Post he was overjoyed over the decision, which takes effect on February 1.
MDA ’s emergency number is 101, while Hatzalah’s number is 1221. From February 1, all calls to 101 will also be sent automatically to Hatzalah volunteers. The rules were set down by ministry director- general Prof. Ronni Gamzu.
Although there are 140 private ambulance companies in Israel, only MDA and the eight-year-old United Hatzalah, whose volunteers are often the first to arrive on the scene on their wellequipped “ambu-cycles,” are national organizations.
Over the last five years, Beer said, it has been increasingly difficult for Hatzalah to operate, as MDA would not share the calls for help that it received via its emergency phone number with the newer organization.
“MDA regarded us a competition, as a threat. We had to use scanners to listen in to MDA calls so we could send a volunteer immediately. Now we’ll be able to save more lives. That’s all we’re interested in,” Beer said.
Unlike Hatzalah, which raises all its funds from donors and does not charge for any of its services, MDA has for years been obligated to charge for every service it provides.
The ministry directives are a “wonderful first step,” Beer said. “In the long term, we would like to see a ‘911’ system” with a single number for all rescue calls received anywhere in the country; those rescuers who are closest could take action.”