30 Muslim United Hatzalah volunteers from the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem underwent specialized rescue training with the IDF’s Home Front Command last week. The training was conducted to provide the volunteers, all fully trained medical first responders, with the skills needed to provide first response aid within their communities in the event of an earthquake or events like a building collapse.
“The expectation is that in the event of an earthquake, those who will provide the first response are people from the community,” explained Eli Beer, the President and Founder of United Hatzalah. “These volunteers who live in East Jerusalem, are the most familiar with the environment, the residents, and the language.”
Beer said that for this very reason these are the people who will actually be there on the ground in the event of a mass-casualty incident. So the volunteers who took part in the program will be the ones who will of provide help in the first moments after an event and fill the gap until help from such as the Home Front Command, United Hatzalah, and other rescue teams can arrive.
Beer added, “It is for this reason that both United Hatzalah and the Home Front Command see great importance in this type of specialized training that will enable our volunteers to respond quickly and effectively should a disaster of this type occur, G-d forbid. The cooperation between the IDF Home Front Command, United Hatzalah, and the Muslim community of east Jerusalem, as well as Arab society in general, has created a strong bond that is resulting in lives being saved on a daily basis. In these days of severe polarization within Israeli society, the connection that has been built through our lifesaving work gives hope to us all.”
United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Muhammad Abid, a resident of Issawiya, said, “We underwent a specialized three-day training course during which we practiced rescuing trapped people from ruined or collapsed buildings and providing immediate medical treatment on the ground. I believe that, G-d forbid, in the event of a large-scale collapse following an earthquake, whoever is in the vicinity and has the training and the tools, will be the ones to provide initial relief until a more organized relief effort can occur and that this course gave us the tools we need to do exactly this.”
“We come from the neighborhoods in east Jerusalem,” added Issawiya. “We know the area, the residents, and the buildings. In the event of a disaster, we will be on the ground first and will be able to assist those affected by the disaster. We can direct the population to a safe place, and initiate rescue operations to help the people trapped. We will start in the epicenter and work our way outwards conducting triage and saving those we can until other rescue forces arrive.”