I have to admit that originally I wasn’t a fan. But now I am. Big time. I am talking about Hatzalah. What, you may ask, is Hatzalah? This is the mission statement from Hatzalah Chicago’s Facebook page:
Hatzalah Chicago is a non-profit volunteer emergency medical service (EMS) that provides emergency medical response and transport 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at no cost to all who need it, regardless of race, religion or ethnicity. Hatzalah Chicago’s mission is to improve medical outcomes and save lives by enhancing existing emergency medical services in the Chicagoland area.
In emergency medical situations where every second counts, immediate emergency care can mean the difference between life and death.
My original reservations were as follows. I felt that we already had a fine emergency medical service here via 911. Even though other major cities like New York had longer response time, 911 in Chicago was pretty quick. I experienced that quickness when my elderly mother passed out at our Shabbos table. The EMS trauma unit arrived in minutes.
Secondly I was worried about the increased possibility of Antisemitism resulting from not responding to calls from or about non Jews.
I also thought there might be some resentment built up from Chicago’s 911 EMS responders.
And finally (and perhaps most importantly)I saw this as a somewhat insular move. The kind of thinking might be expressed as follows: “We don’t need ‘the Goyim’. We can do this by ourselves – and much better at that. Besides they hate us anyway.” (This is an attitude I have been battling for years.)
But this is not what Hatzalah is about at all. I could not have been more wrong. They are nothing like that. Their mission statement is one that they truly honor. They provide ‘emergency medical response and transport 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at no cost to all who need it, regardless of race, religion or ethnicity’. And that is a constant Kiddush HaShem.
How do they honor this commitment? From Chicago Hatzalah’s Facebook Page:
Twelve months ago, twenty-seven year old US Army Sgt Jordan Adams suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of a devastating state side accident.
He has since been languishing in a California hospital, comatose, with his parents at his bedside praying for a miracle. While a potentially lifesaving experimental treatment exists in Chicago, it has remained beyond the reach of his distraught family, for the simple reason that his military health coverage does not cover the cost of air and ground ambulance transport for experimental treatment.
After being contacted by the about this situation, Isaac Leider sprang into action. He is the head ofVitalOne, an organization run by Orthodox Jews (Yet another Kiddush HaShem -see theirwebsite). More from Chicago Hatzalah:
Isaac sprang into action and within just 24 hours of learning Sgt Adams’ story, he arranged the hitherto impossible — professional medical air and ground transport. A Chicago philanthropist who wishes to remain anonymous, donated the use of his Falcon 900 jet, which VitalOne transformed into an airborne intensive care unit outfitted with top level medical equipment. Upon arrival in Chicago, the VitalOne crew teamed-up with Hatzalah Chicago EMS members for ground transport to the VA hospital.
Knowing that this young hero’s only chance of recovery was impossible just because of logistics was unacceptable,” declares Mr. Leider, Founder and Director of VitalOne.
“We are very proud to be orchestrating this complex transport and donating our services to ensure Sgt Adams receives the best treatment available.”
Hatzalah is run by Orthodox Jews. It is an all volunteer group consisting of Orthodox Jews of all stripes – including Chasidim, Lithuanian Yeshiva type Charedim, and Modern Orthodox. No one looks at anyone else’s Kipa. They all wear the same Hatzalah jackets and are all on the same page – in the business of saving lives. My hat is off to them and my sincere apologies for ever having doubted them. They are a model of Altruism and the kind of Achdus so lacking among many of the rest of us.