IsraAid, First-Aid and the Heart of Israel

Despite its small geographic size, the tiny nation of Israel has high ambitions. Some of its notable ambitions are to help those affected by disasters. It is always a pleasure to see the heart of Israel exemplified. Perhaps this heart for humanity is best displayed in the Israeli disaster relief organization IsraAid.

In Israel21c‘s September 2016 article, In a crisis, Israel lends the US a helping hand, Nicky Blackburn highlighted Israel’s incredibly beneficial role in helping the United states with disaster relief in its hour of trouble. Blackburn reported on IsraAid’s helpful hand in providing relief to Louisiana residents who had been ravaged by flooding:

“It’s not the first time Israel has flown to help the United States. Israeli aid organizations have rushed to provide assistance time and again, helping the country through some of its most traumatic experiences in recent years, from floods to hurricanes, wild fires, tornados and terror attacks.”

Blackburn went on to report about another beneficial way Israel lends a hand to the US:

“Another area in which Israel offers significant aid to the US is in trauma counseling. Out of necessity, Israel has become one of the leading experts in this field worldwide, and it will often send experts to disaster areas to train leaders in affected communities how to help residents pick up the pieces of their lives”

Blackburn went on to report on a notable example of this beneficial trauma counseling by reporting how in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013, Israel Trauma Coalition (ITC) sent a team of six experts to Massachusetts where they provided 17 workshops for hospital personnel, schools and clergy.

IsraAid’s disaster relief in the August 2016 Louisiana flooding entailed the non-profit organization sending eight aid workers to Louisiana in an effort to help local residents pick up the remaining pieces of their lives by clearing debris, salvaging personal belongings and getting back into a normal routine as quickly as can be. Global Programs Director for IsraAid and head of the delegation told Israel21c in their August 2016 article, Israeli aid for Louisiana flood and Canada fire victims:

“We watched the storm developing in the last few days and with the help of our local partners we got a snapshot of the enormous damage and the great need for assistance and rehabilitation.”

Perhaps the motivation for IsraAid’s desire to help its ally The United States in times of trouble, is best said by Shachar Zahavi, founding Director of IsraAid. He summed up the essence of Israel’s heart for giving back and especially its heart for helping its friend and ally in Israel21c’s October 2015 article Israeli aid team helps cleanup in Carolinas:

“IsraAID is also coordinating its efforts with local Jewish Federations. We are glad to be here to support our American friends and ally, giving back to the American people who have been a constant supporter of Israel for years.”

In May 2016 IsraAid sent their first-ever delegation to Canada to provide relief and support to victims of the large Fort McMurray wildfire that raged through the province of Alberta. Israel21c  reported that in addition to aid workers from Canada and the United States, IsraAid sent seven Israeli volunteers to join these Canadian and American aid workers in an effort to sort through toxic ashes and clear debris. The volunteers additionally provided professional psychosocial support.

Furthermore, What could prove to be an innovative idea and, if it gains enough traction in popularity, could change the landscape of emergency medical services in various locations across the globe, is the isreaeli-born idea of creating a volunteer-led Emergency Medical Services organization United Hatzalah.

In their April 2016 article, Israeli grassroots lifesaving model goes international, Israel21c reported that this nifty idea came about in 1989 when then-teenager Eli Beer, was volunteering for an ambulance service when, amid horrifying circumstances, the ambulance he was riding in became stuck in Jerusalem traffic; thus failing to arrive on the scene in time to save a choking child. This incident sparked Beer’s motivation to mobilize teams of neighborhood-based volunteers who could attempt to bridge the gap between the crucial time when emergencies strike and the time when the ambulance arrives. Ideally, the EMS-trained volunteers would reach their patients by foot or cycle in around three minutes.

The article explained that amid hearing about this innovative organization (United Hatzalah), several large cities in places as diverse as Lithuiania, Argentina, India, Panama, Brazil, New Jersey and Michigan have requested that United Hatzalah help them in implementing similar systems in an effort to reach accident victims and ill patients in that crucial window of time before the ambulance arrives.

In the following video, Beer gave a speech for TED Talks where he explained his perspective on why this is such an effective invention:

Together, this Israeli disaster relief and first-aid innovation speak volumes about the heart of Israeli society and, in essence, are a testament that Israel truly is a light unto the nations.




About the Author
Allison Barksdale is a senior convergence journalism major at Abilene Christian University who has a heart for Israel and enjoys writing about Israel's numerous contributions in her spare time.
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