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June 27, 2021 6:52 pm

Jewish and Israeli Rescue Organizations Head to Florida to Treat Those Injured in Building Collapse

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Rescue personnel continues search and rescue operations for survivors of a partially collapsed residential building in Surfside, near Miami Beach, Florida, U.S. June 26, 2021. REUTERS/Marco Bello

Jewish and Israeli rescue organizations rushed to the scene of the collapse of a building in the heavily Jewish neighborhood of Surfside, Florida over the weekend, with one volunteer saying they were “incredibly confident” that their efforts would “make a difference.”

Andre Roitman, a volunteer EMT with Hatzalah of South Florida, which primarily serves the Jewish communities of Miami-Dade and Broward counties, was trained in Israel by the country’s Magen David Adom (MDA) emergency service, which he said was “an eye-opener.”

“Removing people from rubble after a building collapse requires proactive medical procedures to prevent atrial fibrillation and renal failure once the weight pinning the victim is removed,” Roitman said. “It’s not a matter of merely pulling them from the debris.”

“But because of our training, when we arrived on the scene Thursday morning, we were incredibly confident we had the tools and training to make a difference,” he said.

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Some of those missing in the rubble are in fact major contributors to MDA, according to the service.

“The Jewish community is small,” said Uriel Goldberg, a MDA paramedic and instructor. “When a disaster strikes the Jewish community — even if it’s 5,600 miles away in the US — we feel the impact in Israel too.”

The Israeli volunteer EMS organization United Hatzalah is also sending aid, but of the psychological kind.

A team from its Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit will be there to treat those affected by the traumatic experience, especially families and neighbors of the victims.

Dov Maisel, the Vice President of Operations for United Hatzalah, will lead the team, building on his experience leading similar missions to Nepal, Haiti, and Japan.

Einat Kaufman, the unit’s Clinical Operations Director and one of the top cognitive therapists in Israel, will accompany the team as well. Kaufman participated previously in treating trauma cases following the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh.

The President and founder of United Hatzalah, Eli Beer, commented, “As soon as the collapse occurred, we began making preparations for the mission to depart.”

“This will be the fourth emergency relief mission conducted by our Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit in the United States in as many years,” he said.

“I myself was the benefactor of the kindness of the entire South Florida community during my fight with Covid-19 last year and if I were able to go myself on this mission I would,” Beer stated. “I am sending my best people on this mission in order to provide as much help as we can.”

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