On Monday afternoon, US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides visited United Hatzalah headquarters in Jerusalem to learn about the work of Israel’s largest fully-volunteer EMS service.
Nides is the second US Ambassador to visit the organization after former Ambassador Friedman visited during his tenure as well.
Nides was accompanied by real estate developer Menachem Oren, a longtime friend of the organization who also shared stories with the Ambassador about the lifesaving efforts of the network of more than 6,500 volunteers who make up the organization.
In addition to meeting volunteers from different backgrounds, religions, and regions of Israel, Nides was able to meet 50 US and Canadian students who have come to spend their summer training in first aid and emergency response as part of the NCSY Hatzalah Rescue summer program. Ambassador Nides interrupted a training session to take a few minutes to speak to the students.
"On my first trip to Israel when I was just 14 years old, I remember that I hiked in the Sinai and up Masada and it was very inspirational for me. It was something that I will always remember. Likewise, this summer for you is a very cool thing to do and it is something that you will always remember. Now you’re 15 or 16 or 17, and in a few years, you will look back and think to yourselves, 'Wow! That was very cool,'" Nides said.
"Hopefully, you’ll understand what an organization like this does. I’ve seen their motorcycles and ambulances all around since the moment I got here. The idea that within 2-3 minutes, anywhere in this country, there are volunteers who go and save people’s lives is marvelous. You see why this is called the start-up nation. These are volunteers!
"I’m honored to be in your presence and honored that you are all doing this. I’m telling you that when you wake up in a few years in your college dorm room, or whatever it is that you will be doing and you tell your friends and family that you learned what it is to be in EMS in Israel, and you learned to give back for a month, I’m telling you, it will be one of those moments in your life that you will look back on and be able to say, 'That was really cool.'"
At the end of his visit, Ambassador Nides summarized his experience by saying: "I just spent 45 minutes visiting this organization and now I grasp the concept that the volunteers in this organization save the lives of anyone and everyone, Jews, Muslims, Christians, and everyone else, free of charge. It is simply amazing. I’m honored to be here and honored to see what this organization does and be a part of it. I say to all of you involved, thank you for being who you are and what you are doing."
President and Founder of United Hatzalah Eli Beer, who met with Ambassador Nides, thanked him for coming and for his kind words.
"I want to thank you for coming and for everything you shared. You are an incredible person and I am proud to share the mission of our organization with you. I am honored that you want to be involved and I hope that together we can save more lives," Beer concluded.