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UK High Court Charges Hatzolah Medics

Local court decision overturned 'with regret,' as Jewish medics charged for using lights and sirens to reach accident quicker.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 3/14/2014, 10:25 AM

Hatzolah volunteers (file)
Hatzolah volunteers (file)
Eliran Baruch

In the same week that British Prime Minister David Cameron made his first official visit to Israel and declared his staunch support for the Jewish state, Jewish volunteer medics were charged in the UK's High Court for using their warning sirens and lights.

The court ordered "with regret" to overturn a local Bury court's decision not to convict Michael Issler and Mordechai Bamberger, volunteers at Salford's Hatzolah, reports the Daily Mail. The sirens and lights helped the two reach accidents quicker than ambulances to save lives.

Justice Anne Rafferty said at the ruling she was "saddened that medically trained citizens seeking only to do good, part of a scrupulously professional organization with high standards and conspicuously shunning gratuitous publicity, find themselves effectively constrained in their efforts."

Rafferty nevertheless found the pair had breached traffic regulations given that they are volunteers, in a joint decision with Justice Robert Jay.

Their decision overturned a ruling by Judge Thomas Richardson, who acquitted the men of charges given that their vehicles were "used for ambulance purposes." In making the verdict, Richardson noted Hatzolah is "a responsible, dedicated and public-spirited organization with well-trained and motivated operatives, of whom the defendants were two."

Issler and Bamberger got into trouble when they used their lights and sirens while rushing to provide aid in a car and motorcycle accident outside Bury in October, 2012. Police let the volunteers, who arrived before the ambulance, give medical aid, but warned they would be reported for using the sirens and lights.

During the trial, it was reported that Hatzolah's average response time is "under two minutes," while official ambulances take seven to ten minutes.

The High Court left open the option of preventing such cases in the future, but noted it was up to the parliament, and not the court, to do so.

"To be clear: widening the exemption to reflect the modern context is a task for the Secretary of State and Parliament, if so advised, and not for this court," remarked Jay.