Why We Donated an Ambucycle to United Hatzalah

It is lucky to find a job in a positive environment, one in which you can feel that you are making a difference. It is even more rare to work in that job and find success. It is usually in jobs like those, in workplaces like those, that one can find some incredible co-workers, people who care, and who dedicate themselves to making sure that not just they succeed but that the entire team succeed.

United Hatzalah volunteer medics.
United Hatzalah volunteer medics (United Hatzalah Media Department)

Over the past month I’ve been lucky enough to work at United Hatzalah, and I have found that this is such a place. But what has been more astonishing, is that a lot of other people know that as well, but before I began working here, I didn’t know it at all. I didn’t know the extent of the life saving work that this organization does or how dedicated the people who work here are to helping others.

They say that there is always pressure in the work place, pressure form bosses, from co-workers and even a type of peer pressure that influences a person. A person is influenced by their surroundings and one’s job can be a big influencing factor in who a person becomes over time. So far, my experience has been one that has left me very hopeful for my continued time here, and the positive effects that the organization has on its workers, volunteers and personnel is one that is apparent in the people themselves.

Here is just one story of a person who was affected by the organization and wished to become a donor and partner in the life-saving loving-kindness that the organization has come to be known for.

Alan and Chedva Tennenberg are two such individuals, who just last week inaugurated the ambucycle that they donated to United Hatzalah in the city of Modi’in. While the couple is originally from East Brunswick, New Jersey, last July they made aliyah and decided to make the city of Modi’in their home. Shortly thereafter they decided to improve that home by donating an ambucycle to the local chapter of United Hatzalah. The donation came about as the couple felt that they wanted to do something to help raise the level of emergency care in their new city and to mark the occasion of the Aliyah to Israel.

The Tennenberg family and the ambucycle which they donated (Credit: United Hatzalah Media Department)
The Tennenberg family and the ambucycle which they donated (United Hatzalah Media Department)

The story of the donation began when Alan met United Hatzalah’s Founder Eli Beer on a business trip, at a Shabbat dinner in Davos during the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting. Eli walked over to Alan and brought him in and helped him find a seat. “every time Eli noticed someone who hadn’t found a place to sit at this very crowded dinner, he would bring them over, give them his chair, and then try to find another place for himself. I saw him do this several times. Eli was thinking of everyone but himself. recounted Alan. This made a lasting impression on Alan, who works as the Chief Medical Officer of Johnson and Johnson Global Public Health..

Alan then made it his business to learn more about Eli and what he does. “After watching Eli in action that evening and learning more about United Hatzalah, I knew that a gift to this organization would be put to good use. For Eli, it’s all about the people he helps and his volunteers. Alan’s wife Chedva said that “we believe that United Hatzalah is another way to strengthen healthcare at the community level,” a topic which is close to both of their hearts.

The couple, who have 4 children, used the meeting as a catalyst to decide where to donate money to help out the community that they now call home. After hearing of the life-saving work and encountering it first hand on two separate occasions, the Tennenbergs decided to donate a new ambucycle, with the request that it stay in the community of Modi’in and the surrounding area.

Shortly after the ambucycle was donated, but before the inauguration, Alan, who is a veteran bicycle rider, was in a bicycle accident near Beit Shemesh. One of the first responders to arrive on the scene was a United Hatzalah volunteer. “My mother not so long ago was feeling ill and she telephoned emergency services for help,” recalled Chedva, “the first people to arrive were also United Hatzalah responders.”

The Tennenbergs with United Hatzalah personnel at the dedication ceremony. (Credit: United Hatzalah media Department)
The Tennenbergs with United Hatzalah personnel at the dedication ceremony. (Credit: United Hatzalah media Department)

Chedva said that these two incidents, together with all of the positive feedback and interaction that the couple had with the organization, gave them the feeling that they had made the right choice in deciding where to make their donation. “We feel very good about the organization and what it does. The fact that they were the first ones to help really meant something to us, and we are very happy to be able to help out this wonderful organization.”

Alan on the ambucycle that his family donated (Credit: United Hatzalah Media Department)
Alan on the ambucycle that his family donated (Credit: United Hatzalah Media Department)

Chedva took her praise of United Hatzalah one step further. “I highly recommend that other people learn about the organization, and get involved if they can. It is truly a wonderful organization and it does great work. It feels great being a partner in the organization and knowing how much good they do. It gives me hope to know that individual people can step up and make a difference and help.”

One person making a difference is what the organization is all about. United Hatzalah was started by 15 individual volunteers in Jerusalem and now is a nationally recognized EMS first response organization that boasts over 3,000 volunteers. Last year alone, the organization helped 260,000 people by providing them with first aid and medical treatment. To help continue to build this infrastructure by providing even one ambucycle means that the 3 minute response time that United Hatzalah maintains across the country can be shortened further and more lives can be saved.

“We are very excited that this is happening. We wanted to do something real, and once we thought of an ambucycle, we said let’s do that. It’s how we felt we could give back to the community and how we wanted to make a difference,“ said Chedva.

On a personal level, after having worked for United Hatzalah for a month, I can honestly say that it truly is an incredible organization. I went from not knowing what an ambucycle is, to knowing how critical the piece of machinery can be in saving people’s lives by cutting down EMS and ambulance response time to under three minutes. But the help that United Hatzalah volunteer EMTs, paramedics and doctors provide to those they come treat goes far beyond the medical.

Just after I began working here I heard the story of some of the medics who went to treat a baby that was found unconscious in a gan. The supervisor was an emotional wreck, the other children were crying and the child itself was unconscious. The volunteer EMTs who arrived at the scene not only treated the unconscious child but calmed the supervisor and proceeded to look after the remainder of the children in the gan until all of the parents were contacted, arrived, and were ale to pick up their children. And this was all done on a volunteer basis.

Imagine the dedication and compassion that is needed to drop everything in one’s day-to-day life, literally everything, to pick up and go at the drop of a hat and spend anywhere from 2-4 hours running across the city at high speeds to treat an injured person, and then to stay with them, or their family and to make sure that everything is okay both physically and emotionally with that person who is in need. Now imagine doing that all the time, day after day and not receiving anything in return for it.

Those are the special type of people who volunteer for United Hatzalah. These are the people who the Tennenbergs decided to donate to. These are the ambucycle drivers and other volunteers of United Hatzalah. They are simply incredible, and I for one am very happy that I have joined this organization.

About the Author
Raphael Poch is a Canadian-Israeli playwright, producer, director, actor and journalist. He is the International Media Spokesperson for United Hatzalah and runs the First City Improv Troupe.
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