United Hatzalah volunteers from US, Canada
United Hatzalah volunteers from US, CanadaUnited Hatzalah

Last week on Thursday, a group of 50 teenagers from different parts of the United States and Canada graduated from their emergency medical response training course with United Hatzalah and participated in a mass casualty incident (MCI) training drill in the Aminadav forest on the outskirts of Jerusalem. The youngsters, now all fully registered emergency medical responders (EMRs), were participating in one of the summer programs organized by the International Youth Movement NCSY. The program, NCSY Hatzalah Rescue, is currently in its fifth installment, having taken a break in 2020 due to the covid-19 outbreak.

The MCI drill simulated a bus crash with dozens of actors portraying injured youngsters. The task of the newly minted EMRs was to provide medical treatment at the scene to the simulated injuries of the youngsters and to assist the ambulance teams that arrived in performing triage and transporting the simulated “victims” to the hospital. Following the drill, the NCSY participants will now be joining regular ambulance shifts around the country and responding to medical emergencies for the next few weeks.

Two participants from Plainview, New York, Zack Zutler and Josh Ackerman explained why they felt it was important to participate on this program. “We went on NCSY Hatzalah Rescue to be able to help people in Israel, and our surprise drill gave us the first taste of that. Being unexpectedly sent into a mass casualty drill where we assessed, triaged, and transported over 50 patients, we were able to use all of the skills that United Hatzalah has taught us during our training. We want to thank Ari, Yoni, Yossi, and the entire team at United Hatzalah for giving us this amazing opportunity.”

Another one of the participants, Chloe Dayani, from Los Angeles, said that the training prepared her for the real thing when the time came to it. “Learning how to save a life is one of the most amazing things one can learn, and having done it with the best people in just one week is truly an experience. We went through a vigorous course in United Hatzalah in a short amount of time and now we are ready to give back to our homeland.”

Reflecting on the success of the MCI training and seeing the program participants now serving on ambulances in Israel, President and Founder of United Hatzalah Eli Beer added, “I remember when I was 16 years old and just starting out as a first responder riding on an ambulance. I didn’t know at the time that I would be changing the way EMS was done in Israel, I just wanted to help as many people as I could. Today, I see the same enthusiasm on the faces of these youngsters and I know that some of them may go on to shape the future of EMS in their own cities and countries, and perhaps even here. I am inspired by the level of enthusiasm they show and I wish them much success going out and saving lives for the rest of their time in Israel and after they go back home.”