From Davos: Creating a Network of Heroes

February 1, 2012 10:55 am 0 comments

Hatzalah ambulance parked in Brooklyn, NY. Photo wiki commons.

From a talk delivered by the author at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

As I stand here at the World Economic Forum in Davos, surrounded by the world’s most powerful, wealthy and influential people, I realize my importance to them. If one of the thousands of people here was to suddenly begin choking or suffer from a heart attack, I would become that person’s “hero.” Why me? Simply put, as the founder of United Hatzalah (Rescue) of Israel, this is what I, and 1,700 other volunteers like me in Israel do every single day.

At a moments notice thousands of Israeli volunteers, Jewish and Arab, orthodox and secular, drop whatever they are doing and rush to the aid of anyone, and I mean ANYONE, who is in need of emergency medical attention. Last year alone, United Hatzalah volunteers responded to more than 190,000 emergency calls. That’s more than 500 calls per day country-wide. Our volunteers each responded to an average of 350 calls over the course of the year, or basically one a day. These volunteers are doctors and lawyers, employees of fish stores and schools, and members of the Knesset and the Military. They are Rabbi’s and lay people and are all joined by the very same thing, their Humanity. Each one is focused on the mission of United Hatzalah — to save lives everyday, regardless of a person’s religion, background or beliefs.

One “save” that comes to mind that took place just earlier this week; a two-year-old Arab boy was left unconscious after nearly drowning in his bathtub. Two United Hatzalah volunteers (who happened to be orthodox Jews) rushed to the scene where the child’s uncle was in a state of helpless panic and provided successful resuscitation to revive the young patient. Working with an Israeli ambulance crew, the child was transferred to an Arab hospital in nearby Issawiya. The Uncle didn’t care that the rescuers were orthodox Jews. Those same rescuers didn’t care that the child was Muslim. They all focused on one thing. Saving that two-year old’s life. This happens every day in Israel, every single day. Our volunteers don’t see color, religion, or gender. They only see the life that needs saving.

So while among leaders such as Bill Gates and Christine Lagarde, listening to them talk about how to solve the world’s most pressing issues, I think to myself how each one of them could create a similar network of lifesavers in their own country, thus enabling them to also be prepared to save a life and become a hero, and truly live up to the idea of Tikkun Olam — repairing the world — by just helping someone in need.

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