Hatzalah Chicago was formed to enhance pre-hospital care and develop a higher level of emergency preparedness and support in the Chicagoland Jewish Community by augmenting the existing services provided by the municipalities. In emergency medical situations where every second counts, community members deserve to have access to the best possible care. Hatzalah Chicago’s goal is to provide emergency medical response 24 hours a day, 7 days a week within defined geographical boundaries in Lincolnwood, Peterson Park, Skokie, and West Rogers Park.
Hatzalah Chicago was formed as a branch of Hatzalah, the largest volunteer emergency medical service and ambulance provider in the United States, with over 90 ambulances, several thousand volunteers and numerous branches serving communities throughout the U.S. and the world. In the U.S., Hatzalah is in full force throughout Jewish communities in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Miami, Maryland and California. While each organization is completely independent, they share the same goal – to save lives.
Hatzalah has proven successful in communities worldwide and is needed in Chicago for the following reasons:
- TO SAVE LIVES. Hatzalah has saved thousands of lives in other communities because its volunteers are local and live and work in high population areas. Hatzalah volunteers will be in our schools, shuls, etc. and can quickly stabilize patients until Hatzalah transport or other medical emergency resources arrive on scene.
- TO PROVIDE THE BEST POSSIBLE CARE. Hatzalah volunteers approach each call with a fresh enthusiasm to comfort and save lives. They bring a sense of urgency and compassion that is unparalleled because their patients are also their friends, family and neighbors.
- TO ACTIVATE THE EMERGENCY MEDICAL SYSTEM. Hatzalah members may already be on-scene or called when community members initially hesitate to dial 911 because they are uncertain if medical attention is necessary or are reluctant because they are underinsured or uninsured. A quick assessment by an Emergency Medical Technician may encourage the patient to seek definitive care sooner than they would have otherwise. Better medical outcomes usually reflect faster care.
- TO PROMOTE SENSITIVITY AND UNDERSTANDING. Hatzalah members are trained in both emergency medicine and Jewish law, and with an understanding of the unique needs of the community, are sensitive to cultural considerations and can direct patients to go to the hospital when they may not otherwise. For instance, a Hatzalah member’s explanation of the severity of a patient’s symptoms may alleviate the fear of chillul shabbat and inspire keeping the mitzvah of hatzalat nefashot, a form of patient advocacy that can only be provided from within the community.