The Riverdale Chapter of Hatzalah Volunteer Ambulance, the largest all-volunteer ambulance service in the United States, honored the Verizon Foundation for its recent grant of $30,000 to facilitate an essential upgrade of the organization’s two-way radio communications coverage system. The award was presented to Verizon by Rabbi David Cohen, CEO of Hatzalah, Daniel Hammerman, Coordinator of Riverdale Hatzalah and Yossi Cohn and Jeffrey Moerdler, both volunteers with Riverdale Hatzalah who spearheaded the antennae project, on Sunday, August 8 at Riverdale Hatzalah’s annual members’ barbeque. Representing Verizon were Catherine Gasteyer, Director of Governmental and External Affairs, and April Horton, Director of External and Governmental Affairs – Bronx. Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz also joined Hatzalah in saluting Verizon.
“We are very pleased that we have the opportunity to thank Verizon for its significant financial support of our organization,” said Rabbi David Cohen, CEO of Hatzalah. “This funding has enabled us to drastically improve our two-way radio communication coverage between our dispatchers and emergency first responders, which is critical to ensure the quickest response to medical emergencies in our coverage areas.”
Chevra Hatzalah, founded in Brooklyn, New York in 1965, is now in operation throughout the Greater New York Metropolitan area and various counties in Upstate New York. The organization has more than 1,200 volunteer medical personnel, who respond to 45,000 emergency calls per year, of which 25,000 patients are transported to emergency rooms. It is the only ambulance service in New York City that operates a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week emergency first response service, providing both basic and advanced life support. The Riverdale Chapter, led by coordinator Daniel Hammerman, has 30 Emergency Medical Technicians, 3 paramedics and 2 ambulances and responds to over 700 emergency calls each year.
The Hatzalah organization operates a unique two-level system with its first responders and ambulances. Volunteer EMTs are dispatched via two-way radio by central command, to respond directly to the scene of an emergency with their privately owned vehicles specifically outfitted for medical emergencies. A third member brings an ambulance to the location. When necessary, these first responders can quickly upgrade the level of care by requesting paramedics who have a higher level of training. This strategy enables Hatzalah responders to begin emergency medical intervention even prior to the arrival of the ambulance. Hatzalah’s average response time for the first EMT on scene beginning care is 2-4 minutes, among the fastest in the nation.
The recently completed radio communication upgrade project consisted of the tuning and synchronization of all of the Hatzalah radio transmitters and receivers. Additionally, with the $30,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation, three new radio antennas were or will be installed in the West Side of Manhattan, the Riverdale section of the Bronx, and Fresh Meadows in Queens. Prior to these improvements, Hatzalah dispatchers were often unable to hear or communicate with volunteers in poor coverage areas who were offering to respond to emergency calls. Due to the recent upgrade, the organization is able to continue serving communities in the Greater New York Metropolitan area and Upstate New York.