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NSW Ambulance Welcomes Hatzolah to its Volunteer Family

16 May 2014

Hatzolah Sydney, which has been serving the city's Jewish community since 2006, has now become an accredited NSW Ambulance Community First Responder (CFR) unit, enabling it to respond as a back-up to paramedics during medical emergencies.

Servicing a population of 20,000 Jewish residents living in Sydney's east, the unit is staffed by 13 volunteers, who are all trained to the level of Certificate 2 Emergency Medical Service First Responder, maintaining their skills through regular training sessions and annual recertification.

Under arrangement with NSW Ambulance, the Hatzolah Sydney team is now also being responded to medical emergencies in the general community.

Volunteer and Community First Responder Operational Support Manager Superintendent Sue Webster said the arrangement enhanced the education of the Jewish community in the need for early intervention during medical crises, with particular reference to emergencies during the Jewish religious observations such as Shabbos and Yom Tov.

"It has facilitated greater interaction and operational support between NSW Ambulance and Hatzolah for the benefit of the community of the eastern suburbs of Sydney," she said.

Rabbi Mendy Litzman, the founder and President of Hatzolah Sydney, said Jewish residents were encouraged to first call Triple Zero (000) in a medical emergency, then a specially designated Hatzolah Sydney hotline, which is operational 24 hours a day.

"Our cultural considerations include modesty, Sabbath observance and death and dying," he said.

"In Jewish law, it's more respectful to leave a deceased Jewish person on the floor rather than put them back in the bed.

"We've been called in the past to assist patients in cardiac arrest. We assist the paramedics and if the patient dies, we pray for them and light a candle."

Hatzolah Sydney was called to its first job under the new arrangement on Sunday, 11 May 2014, the response involving a cardiac arrest patient at Vaucluse. Rabbi Litzman said the case demonstrated the value of the service working with NSW Ambulance.

"One of our members lives just 500 m away so he was first on scene, which demonstrated precisely the value of the collaboration - in medical emergencies, every second counts," he said.

"Our 13 responders have full medical kits in their cars, including defibrillators, blood pressure cuffs and oxygen. We also have equipment and a defibrillator at our seven synagogues."

NSW Ambulance would like to welcome Hatzolah Sydney CFR Unit to its family.