Eli Beer: founder of Israel rescue organization shares his story in Montreal talk

When my fellow Côte Saint-Luc city councillor Oren Sebag and I found out that Eli Beer, the much revered founder of United Hatzalah of Israel was speaking at the Shaare Zion Congregation  (www.shaarezion.org) we made it our business to be there. 

Using specially equipped motorcycle ambulances, United Hatzalah’s network of more than 4,000 volunteer medics help save thousands of lives each year across Israel by providing medical treatment in an average response time of three minutes or less.

I thank local supporter Marvin Binbom  and am Regional Development Officer for Canada Andrea Preciado for providing me the advance information which prompted us to attend this most interesting breakfast meeting.

Sandy Lipkus, Eli Beer, Oren Sebag, myself and Andrea Preciado.

First off, United Hatzalah of Israel should not be confused with  Hatzoloh Montreal,  another Jewish first response organization.

Working as a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) from the age of 17, Beer saw just how rare it was that an ambulance team was able to navigate the congested streets of Israel to reach an accident victim in time to save his/her life. He also observed that local people, if trained appropriately, could fill the gap in care left between the first call to emergency services and the arrival of the support team—and save lives. His organization has approached this problem through the novel use of technology and an ever-expanding volunteer corps that pulls from all communities throughout Israel. His teams are now able to respond to any incident, regardless of location, in under three minutes.  Organizing  a volunteer unit of EMTs,  using specially equipped motorcycle ambulances to manoeuver efficiently in urgent-care situations, proved to be a stroke of genius.

One day Beer's team saved the life of his own father.

Councillor Sebag, who is a Registered Nurse by education and oversees the Public Safety portfolio in Côte Saint-Luc, was very intrigued by what he heard. Both of us plan to bring this information to the council table. After the talk he gave Beer an overview of how our Emergency Medical Services works and invited him to come see it for himself on a future visit.

“When I was young I said I wanted to be a doctor,” Beer said. “My dream was to save a life.”

Annually, United Hatzalah responds to more than 800 emergency calls each day, of which approximately 25 percent are critical lifesaving situations. They also do not charge for their services, unlike others.

Through his fleet of ambucycles, several thousand volunteers and training programs, Beer has accelerated response time to within minutes, while additionally bringing Muslim, Jewish, and Christian communities together to solve this common yet crucial issue.

United Hatzalah trains volunteers and then equips them with, among other items, a GPS application for their mobile phone. When an emergency medical situation arises, volunteers within a specific radius are notified and expected to immediately attend the situation. They then provide first response action within three minutes to stabilize the victim until professional help arrives to transport them to a hospital or more secure location.

While his organization was originally based in the Jewish community, the universal need for these services quickly became apparent. The program was promptly scaled to include Arabs and Christians in the volunteer corps. Today, United Hatzalah members respond to any and all accidents, regardless of ethnic origin or religion.

Beer said he would like to grow his organization in two main directions:  an  Israeli operation of  3,000 volunteers and 500 ambucycles and to replicate the model in other countries—transferring the experience accumulated throughout the last two decades to new communities in need and adjusting the how-tos for new contexts.  Could our EMS use this technology?

Beer joked: “For Montreal, maybe you need an ambucycle snowboard!”

I met Sandy Lipkus. She and her husband Ted Adler heard about Beer’s organization and became supporters of  United Hatzalah. They have visited the command center in Israel and have sponsored two ambucycles and one car via their Foundation, as well as a team of 10 ambulance drivers.  She noted how impressed she was how donors are told regularly exactly how the vehicles they sponsored are used to save lives. “That is very concrete,” she agreed.

Neil Bernstein concluded the event by thanking everyone for coming.

To find out more go to https://israelrescue.org and watch this video of Eli Beer.


Emergency teams handle fire well on Sir Walter Scott

Congratulations to the entire CSL Public Safety team, the police and firefighters for the efforts they made to contain a blaze at 5765 Sir Walter Scott on Friday afternoon, January 23.

The fire was immediately gotten under control. It was confined to one apartment on the first floor and appears to have started in the kitchen. There was no damage to any other apartment other than some light smoke.
Firefighters on the scene. (photos by Bram Eisenthal)
I was on the scene and so were about half a dozen fire trucks, a fire department school bus in case residents needed somewhere warm to go to, a number of police cars, our Public Security, the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Urgences Santé. Kildare Road near Sir Walter Scott was blocked off to traffic. Public Security redirected vehicles down Rembrandt and around Merrimac. This came at a tricky time as Bialik High School was letting out.
Fortunately the residents were permitted to return to their apartments about 40 minutes after the emergency teams arrived. According to our Director of Public Safety Jordy Reichson, the  family whose apartment it was were assessed by EMS and Urgences Santé on scene, but not transported to the hospital. They will be staying with relatives until their apartment is repaired. There were no other injuries.
A job well done by all concerned!