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Denied Inclusion in Hatzalah, Orthodox Women Take Initiative

Orthodox women establish 'Ezrat Nashim,' aimed at providing volunteer medical emergency services to female Jewish community.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 2/16/2012, 3:16 PM

Newborn baby and mother.
Newborn baby and mother.
Flash 90

After being denied inclusion in Brooklyn’s exclusively male ambulance corps, a group of orthodox women have decided to establish a their own emergency response service. Calling it Ezrat Nashim, the new will provide volunteer emergency medical services to orthodox women.

“We are not looking to create litigation or controversy, we are just looking to find a way to serve other women,” said Rachel Frier, the group’s spokeswoman. She noted the women consulted respected rabbis, who prefer to remain anonymous, and received their support.

The rabbis supported the women's initiative because they were reluctant interfere in the policies of the male-dominated Hatzalah service, she said.

Yocheved Lerner-Miller, an emergency medical technician with Ezras Nashim said, “Basically, we did the Hatzalah routine and it is going to get us nowhere. They are adamant, and the goal now is to get going. That is how we are going to do it. We are going to do our own thing.”

According to The Forward, “Rather than become a standing ambulance corps, Ezras Nashim plans to operate as a network of volunteers without a central office or vehicle. The women will be trained as both EMTs and doulas, or birthing coaches."

"They plan to contract with a private ambulance service that can provide hospital transport if the need arises. While the women will focus on emergency births, they say that they will be prepared to help Orthodox women with other medical needs as well," the report said.

Unlike Hatzalah, which receives public grants from the state of New York, Ezrat Nashim will rely solely on public donations.