Joel Sonreir
Joel Sonreir

What America Could Learn from Israel’s Emergency Response Services, Care of ParaDocs CEO & Founder, Alex Pollak

Magen David Adom (“Red Star of David,”) Israel’s national emergency medical, disaster, ambulance, and blood bank service, was established in 1930 with only a single branch, based in Tel Aviv. Five years later, the organization spread nationwide, and in 2006, Magen David Adom (MADA) became a full member of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent societies. The Magen David Adom currently has about 990 employees and 6,000 volunteers. As Israel’s primary emergency response service, Magen David Adom focuses on rapid trauma treatment and quick response time. Its treatment methods are based on Israel’s medical system’s mentality of getting people on stretchers as quickly as possible in order to stabilize them in emergency vehicles before treating them at the hospital. Magen David Adom currently has a five-minute response time, and that number is decreasing.

“The Israeli mentality, to stabilize immediately, then treat in hospitals, should serve as the backbone for all emergency response systems worldwide,” says Alex Pollak, founder of emergency response service ParaDocs, who had trained with MADA after being a first responder to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

America’s largest emergency response system, 9–1–1, was established in 1967. Since its beginning, 9–1–1 has been dedicated to assisting in all types of situations, from individual distress calls to mass casualty incidents. Today, 96% of the geographic US is covered by variations of 9–1–1, and about 240 million calls are made to 9–1–1 in the US annually. The average 9–1–1 response time currently ranges from nine to twelve minutes, and is on the rise.

“In life-threatening situations, every second counts,” commented Pollak.

Several of America’s other emergency response organizations have noticed this problem, and have responded Israeli-style. Hatzolah was established in the 1960s, and is known to respond to calls in under five minutes. More recently, ParaDocs was established in 2011, and responds to calls quickly by preemptively stationing themselves at large events. ParaDocs is an event medical company comprised of doctors, nurses, paramedics, and EMTs. Its founder, Alex Pollak, had completed counter-terrorism training in Israel and mass casualty incident training with MADA before joining Hatzolah in New York. Because of its founder’s training in Israel, ParaDocs knows that speed is key in emergency situations and puts effort into ensuring the lowest response time possible.

ParaDocs specializes in assisting at festivals and mass gatherings. For these larger events, they set up what is essentially a field hospital with ICUs (Intensive Care Units,) triage areas, and other emergency room equipment. In 2016, ParaDocs covered over 3,000 events, including many Jewish associations, such as FIDF, UJA, and USHMM, as well as synagogues, and The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. They establish short response times by already being at large events.

The simple truth is that Israel’s emphasis on speedy response time is crucial to assisting its citizens, and America’s most often called upon emergency response service is reaching Israel’s standards in partnership with organizations like ParaDocs and Hatzolah, which yield a wider net. Quicker US emergency response services such as Hatzolah and ParaDocs should be applauded for their coverage of events and geographic locations in the cities that they operate in, in partnership with local, municipal first responders.

About the Author
Working in NYC politics and from South America, with a passion for those doing great things for the world through philanthropy and featuring their stories.
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