|Type||free, volunteer-based emergency medical services|
|Legal status||Non-governmental organization, Non-profit organization|
|US$12 million (2016)|
|Remarks||Awarded 2011 Israeli Presidential Award for Volunteerism|
United Hatzalah ("united rescue" in Hebrew: איחוד הצלה) is a free, volunteer-based emergency medical services (EMS) organization based in Jerusalem, Israel. Its mission is to provide immediate medical intervention during the critical window between the onset of an emergency and the arrival of traditional ambulance assistance. It is one of many Hatzalah organizations in various parts of the world.
United Hatzalah of Israel was founded in 2006 with the merger of several small local hatzalah organizations. It has grown to become the largest independent, non-profit, fully volunteer EMS organization in the world, with over 4,500 volunteer medics nationwide. The organization provides free services to all citizens regardless of race, religion, or national origin. With the help of its Uber-like GPS dispatch system and fleet of rapid response ambucycles, United Hatzalah has achieved an average response time of less than 3 minutes nationwide and 90 seconds in metropolitan areas.
United Hatzalah's national command center in Jerusalem uses an advanced GPS-based dispatch technology to identify the closest and most qualified volunteers and routes them to the scene of an emergency through a mobile device application. Over 700 volunteers are outfitted with medically equipped motorcycles “ambucycles” capable of navigating around traffic jams to reach victims in as few as 90 seconds. The organization is funded exclusively through private charitable support.
Within Israel, individuals may contact United Hatzalah through its direct emergency number, 1221; however, some dispatch information is received directly from national ambulance services. United Hatzalah in turn alerts and coordinates with local ambulances, Search and Rescue (SAR), fire, and police services, when necessary.
As a young EMT in Jerusalem, Eli Beer recognized that heavy urban traffic and narrow streets often prevented ambulances from arriving in time to save a victim. In response, he organized a volunteer unit of EMTs within his Jerusalem neighborhood, that eventually grew to become the Hatzalah Jerusalem EMS organization. Hatzalah Jerusalem introduced ambucycles — motorcycles retrofitted with a storage box mounted to the back containing a complete trauma kit, an oxygen canister, an automated external defibrillator and all the lifesaving equipment found in an ambulance, but on a vehicle nimble enough to weave through traffic, narrow alleys, or obstructed roadways.
Initially, volunteers responded to less than 200 calls per day by monitoring two-way emergency radio scanners. As cellular technology evolved, volunteers migrated to a managed push-to-talk network, which enabled two-way communications between dispatchers and volunteer medics.
After the Second Lebanon War (Hebrew: מלחמת לבנון השנייה, Milhemet Levanon HaShniya) in 2006, Beer brought together more than 50 independent Hatzalah organizations to form United Hatzalah of Israel.
In 2008 United Hatzalah developed the LifeCompass GPS dispatch technology and mobile app medley capable of tracking the location of volunteers in real time, assessing the unique capabilities, mobility and equipment of the closest volunteers, and routing the most appropriate medics to any given emergency. Today, all volunteers receive a standard-issue smartphone linked to the second generation LifeCompass 2.0 command-and-control system.
Results and Demographics
United Hatzalah currently responds to approximately 1000 calls per day and as many as 1,500 calls during large-scale emergencies such as the 2014 Israel–Gaza Conflict. In 2017, the organization answered more than 295,000 calls, with a volunteer corps of 4,000 medics, and a fleet of 650 ambucycles.
United Hatzalah’s lifesaving model has reduced average first-response time to three minutes. Sudden cardiac arrest calls are the best measure of emergency medical performance. Since United Hatzalah’s inception, the rate of cardiac-arrest deaths has decreased by 50%, according to the Israel Heart Society. At 46.4 deaths per 100,000 people, the World Health Organization reported in 2011 that Israel ranks 12th best out of 192 countries in terms of coronary-related mortality.
United Hatzalah's volunteer base in 2018 is approximately 60% Jewish Religious, 30% Jewish Secular and 10% Minorities (Muslim, Christian and Druze).
Awards and recognition
In recognition of his dedication to save lives and efforts to create a multicultural, apolitical EMS organization, Eli Beer, on behalf of United Hatzalah, has received numerous international accolades, including the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship Social Entrepreneur Award (2010), the Israeli Presidential Award for Volunteerism (2011), the World Economic Forum (WEF) Young Global Leader award (2012), the Institute of International Education’s Victor J. Goldberg Prize (2013), the OMETZ Social Responsibility Award (2015), the World Values Network Champion of Human Life Award (2016) and the Conference of European Rabbis Internet Entrepreneur Prize (2017).
In April 2013, Eli Beer presented a TedMed talk titled, "The fastest ambulance? A motorcycle," in which he describes the circumstances that led to him to re-imagine first-response medicine by training volunteer EMTs to respond to local emergencies and stabilize victims until official help arrives. The video has been viewed more than a million times to date .
During the March 2015 American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference in Washington DC, United Hatzalah was honored as a featured innovator in AIPAC’s Innovation Showcase, serving to highlight emerging technology developed in Israel but with worldwide impact.
United Hatzalah has earned the Israeli Midot Seal of Effectiveness (2015), the GuideStar Platinum Participant status (2016) and Charity Navigator Four Star Rating (2016) for its operational professionalism and transparent management.
- Arom, Eitan; Schachne, Erica (January 1, 2015). "Just an Ambucycle Ride away". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
- Siegel-Itzkovich, Judy (May 7, 2012). "Gov't Dithers in Red Tape, Defibrillator Saves Life". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
- "Global Atlas on cardiovascular disease prevention and control" (PDF). World Health Organization. Retrieved 1 April 2015.
- "The Fastest Ambulance? A Motorcycle". TED (conference). Retrieved April 3, 2019.
- Siegel-Itzkovich, Judy (March 2, 2015). "Ambucycle Zooms into AIPAC Conference". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
- Leichman, Abigail Klein (March 20, 2019). "United Hatzalah opens new emergency response unit in Colombia". Israel21c. Retrieved April 3, 2019.