Hatzolah/Hatzalah (“rescue” or “relief” in Hebrew: הצלה) is a volunteer Emergency Medical Service (EMS) organization serving mostly Jewish communities around the world. Most local branches operate independently of each other, but use the common name.
Hatzoloh was started in Williamsburg, New York in 1965, for the purpose of responding to the unique cultural and religious needs of the Jewish community and improving pre-hospital emergency medical care. Over the years, Hatzoloh New York has developed into the largest volunteer ambulance service in North America. Hatzoloh has chapters in other cities throughout the world as well, including, Montreal, Los Angeles, Miami, London, Johannesburg, Melbourne, Antwerp and Israel. Hatzoloh Antwerp is a Jewish non-profit organization whose purpose is to rapidly respond to the emergency medical needs of the Antwerp community. Hatzoloh also complements the local ambulance service by providing rapid, high quality, non-transport care within minutes of being dispatched. Hatzoloh has been instrumental in the saving of thousands of people’s lives and in the assistance of others in their times of need.
in 1998, after the untimely passing of a young boy in Antwerp. Unfortunately he was not saved but in his merit we have saved numerous lives as the Hatzoloh organization to root in the Jewish community to ensure medical attention can reach any patient as quick and efficiently as possible. Since that day Hatzoloh has grown into an internationally recognized organization with 20 volunteer medical responders, 10 dedicated dispatchers. Hatzoloh has been responding to emergencies for over 20 years, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Hatzoloh Antwerp has been fortunate to save many lives and aid any in medical distress, and we have lent our support in natural disasters and local terrorist attacks. Since the onset of COVID -19, Hatzoloh had set up a helpline with information for the local community and a dedicated team for COVID safe support for the ill.
Because our volunteers are members of the community, they have a unique perception and understanding of the needs of Antwerp's Jewish community. This includes knowledge of Jewish law, as well as the ability to converse with elderly immigrant patients in their native tongue. In addition, many patients, typically Holocaust survivors, will not readily access the EMS system. They will however be more comfortable asking members of their community for help. Hatzoloh's target response time is also under 3 minutes, 100% of the time, ensuring lifesaving medical attention is given without delay.
Our volunteer responders are a group of dedicated individuals who have a tremendous concern for the well being of the people of their community. They are professionals, salespeople, business owners or lay people, who live and work in the communities that we service. When an emergency arises, they stop whatever they are doing in order to help others. Often they only have to travel across the street or down the block in order to respond to a call.
Hatzoloh’s dedicated community volunteers are trained to respond and attend to medical emergencies, at any time, day or night. Our responders undergo approximately 350 hours of training, which is on par with basic ambulance personnel in Europe. When they complete their training, they receive the certification of an Emergency Medical Responder. In addition our volunteers follow rigorous classes to keep their qualifications up to date. Hatzoloh's team has trained with highly professional doctors, from all fields of medicine. Hatzoloh volunteers have also undergone training with special MADA - Israel emergency responders and disaster specialist to ensure that we are well prepared for any event or disaster.
In addition to a two way radio and uniforms, each responder is equipped with an emergency equipment bag, with material as is found on any ambulance. This would include body substance isolation items, basic life support airway equipment, oxygen tank & accessories, basic diagnostic equipment, symptom relief medication & injection kit, and trauma supplies as well. Thanks to the generous support of the community, each responder now has a semi-automatic external defibrillator with them at all times. As well, with the onset of COVID-19 we have purchased lifesaving oxygenation machines which are administered to patients at home under Doctors' orders.
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