Hatzalah Goes Public


hatzolahHatzolah, for 35 years, would not accept government support, despite the real relief they bring to the New York City EMS system – they handle, free of charge, some 50 thousand calls a year, half of which end up in an ambulance trip to the hospital.

Last month, this group of 12 thousand volunteers, headed by CEO Rabbi David Cohen and President Heshy Jacob, decided to break with its time-honored fiscal tradition, and accept a one-time gift of $445 thousand from Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein, to cover the cost of renovating their command center in Flatbush, Brooklyn. Weinstein was joined by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

The grant will cover the expense of an upgrade to the emergency radio and telephone communication system, “Providing such excellent care comes at a price,” Weinstein said, adding that the improvement will give Hatzalah “the finest dispatching equipment available.”

Silver said that “with this upgrade, Hatzalah, which is already an outstanding model of coordination and efficiency, will be able to do even more for the communities that it serves.”

When Weinstein handed the oversized check to Rabbi Cohen and Mr. Jacob, she commented on the fact that some times these checks may be large in area surface but not in their amount. “This one is a big check that’s a big check,” she said.

“It’s important to understand that Hatzalah saves the government every year between ten and twenty million dollars,” said rabbi Cohen, pointing to the 50 thousand annual calls and 25 thousand annual ambulance trips Hatzalah provides, services which would have burdened the public coffers but “so far we haven’t billed anybody for anything.”

Heshy Jacob, who has been with Hatzalah since 1968, said the organization never ceases to amaze him in its capacity to grow and to innovate. He cited as an example a recent change in the running of the night shifts. “We realized that we were a little slower to respond than during the day,” which could prove critical in some cases. “During the day we get to a call in under four minutes, but when our volunteers are sleeping, it’s difficult to get to the call this quickly.”

The solution, according to Jacob, was for the night volunteers to stay up in their cars and remain mobile, so that when the call comes in they’re already in motion, and are able to get to the patient in two to three minutes.

Jacob was beaming with pride when he cited his organization’s record in handling cardiac events. He said the nation’s highest save rate for these cases was held by Washington State, where the schools teach CPR, and consequently, “their save rate is four percent, with a witnessed arrest. New York City’s rate is less than one percent. Our save rate exceeds fifteen percent.”

{GrandStreetNews/Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. Please note that each ‘Hatzalah’ runs financially independent of each other. Williamsburg has nothing to do with Lakewood or Jersey Shore or Baltimore or Flatbush etc. Please clarify – only those Hatzalahs serving NYC proper will be benefitting from this grant.

  2. I believe that once they accept fees for service, their status as not-for-profit changes and they become regulated differently.

  3. Important Message to the Residents of the Catskills

    To all our honored Jewish brethren residing in the Catskill region and beyond, sheyichyu;

    The quality of medical care in the Catskill region is unfortunately not on the level of care that you are accustomed to in the city. Certain medical capabilities and treatments are just not available in the local community hospitals (as is well known both inside and outside our communities) and frequently results in delay of proper care.

    Some examples include but are not limited to the following; interventional cardiac care (catheterizations, stenting, cardiac surgery, etc), accredited stroke centers, high risk obstetrical and neonatal care, pediatric emergency centers, pediatric ICU and specialty care, trauma centers, adult and geriatric specialty care, etc.

    Catskill Hatzolah is an organization characterized by self sacrifice. Its members are presented by an overwhelming task of providing pre-hospital emergency care for well over 250,000 Jewish summer residents; they should live and be well. Their resources are frequently stretched thin in their Holy work. It is incumbent on us to support them with moral and financial help.

    Every soul is Divine and needs to be treated as such.
    Every soul in medical need deserves swift, prompt, and state of the art medical care, whenever and wherever possible.


    It is self-understood, that if the patient is medically unstable (G-d Forbid) as per Department of Health protocols, the patient needs to be taken to the closest APPROPRIATE medical center. However, in many cases, patients are stable enough and SHOULD be transported to the BEST medical centers available or of their choice.

    We were advised to proclaim, by Rabbinical Authorities, that every Hatzolah member is required by Halachah to provide the HIGHEST standard of medical care and guidance and to treat each patient as a member of their own family.

    Hatzolah members and the public should be aware of the following: patients should be transported from the scene to the BEST appropriate hospital in the first place.
    The notion of “transporting to the nearest facility”, however substandard, “to stabilize and then transfer to a better facility”, is against Halachah, DOH protocol, unethical, and can result in unnecessary morbidity and mortality, G-d Forbid.

    The public should be aware of resources available to them. If you need medical advice: for example, which medical center is most appropriate for your particular medical problem, or if you find yourself, for whatever reason, in an inappropriate emergency room or admitted at that same hospital.

    feel free to call “Venishmartem” / KJ -PALS ( Patient Advocate and Liaison Service) at:

    845-783-PALS (7257)

    Or KJ Hatzolah at:


    Sincerely and with Blessing for a Ksiva V’chasima Tova,

    Moshe Aron Steinberg – Director