Hatzalah of Miami-Dade Expansion Noted by Police and Fire Chiefs


miami-hatzolahWhy would police chiefs, fire-rescue and staff from Miami-Dade County — and six local cities — gather at Congregation Ohev Shalom in Miami Beach last month? To note and discuss the expansion of Hatzalah of Miami-Dade, of course.

At a special luncheon hosted by Rabbi Pinchos Weberman, head of the Orthodox Rabbinical Council of South Florida, representatives of police and fire-rescue units from Miami-Dade County and the cities of Bal Harbour, Bay Harbor Islands, Miami Beach and Surfside gathered to hear about Hatzalah’s first full year of operations in the cities of Aventura and North Miami Beach, as well as in unincorporated portions of Miami-Dade County – and note its expansion into four new cities.

The reports were all good. At the outset of Hatzalah’s operations last February, Chief Rafael Hernandez of the North Miami Beach Police Department noted that Hatzalah, “is a great example of our community oriented policing philosophy,” and thanked Hatzalah for “working on a true partnership with our department.” One year later, Major Mark Jeter of the Miami-Dade County Police Department reported to the assembled chiefs that, of the hundreds of calls to which Hatzalah responded since February 1, 2010, “we have never received a complaint.”

No small accomplishment, considering the stress-filled situations to which Hatzalah responds. Hatzalah is a non-profit volunteer community group providing basic life support in emergency medical situations until an ambulance arrives. With more than twenty Florida-certified EMT’s and physicians backed by more than ten 24-hour-per-day dispatchers, Hatzalah was able to begin providing emergency medical services in Aventura and North Miami Beach. While Hatzalah is supported and staffed by the Jewish community, Hatzalah provides care at no cost equally to all who are in need, regardless of race, religion or ethnicity.

In its first year, Hatzalah community volunteers provided and used trauma kits and AEDs in local area synagogues, and its volunteers responded to calls coming in from their communities. Because Hatzalah volunteers often live, work, shop, sleep and go about their lives in the communities they serve, dispatchers can confirm that a call was placed to authorized 911 personnel — and then have the closest Hatzalah volunteers proceed to the scene with lifesaving equipment kept in their vehicles. Hatzalah strives to respond to an emergency call within three minutes – and almost always succeeds. No fees are charged to recipients of services, insurance companies or other third parties. No city, county, state or federal funds are used or requested.

After receiving an enthusiastic welcome in the three Miami-Dade areas that Hatzalah initially serviced, Hatzalah was approached by other Jewish communities seeking similar service. Because the success of this program hinges on local volunteers, Hatzalah had to wait until it was able to attract at least 10 new volunteers from the Miami Beach area, and for all of them to successfully complete Florida’s intensive 300-hour EMT training. A gala graduation took place on February 13 at the Highland Lakes Synagogue, in front of family, friends and prominent leaders such as North Miami Beach Mayor Myron Rosner. This group will serve as the backbone of service soon-to-be-available to the communities of Miami Beach, Surfside, Bay Harbor Islands and Bal Harbour.

What of the official response? Captain Leo Quinn of the Bal Harbour Police Department was typical: To their troops, Capt. Quinn directed: “[Hatzalah] will be a situation of ‘neighbors helping neighbors’ and could prove to be very helpful to our community.” For the record, the Captain noted, “Anytime members of the community get together and help each other, there can never be anything negative about it. I commend you and your volunteers for wishing to make a difference in your communities and look forward to assisting you in any way I can.”

{Noam Amdurski-Matzav.com Newscenter}