Hatzalah – A Beloved Community Resource


The Hatzalah organization has touched everyone in our community. We are so very blessed to have Hatzalah services just a phone call away. 


Unfortunately, emergencies happen every day, and often when we least expect them. However, instead of  panicking, the thing to do is to reach out to Hatzalah, knowing that within minutes competent help will be at your doorstep. These trained medical professionals immediately  assess the situation, and assist with every issue. They direct family members or whoever may be on the scene. . Many questions arise, such as: should the patient go to the hospital or should they wait and see what happens? Who should be called? What is the best protocol for the person in need? Having Hatzalah volunteers present, who not only are trained, but are objective (unlike family members) is so important in an emergency situation. Seeing the situation with an outsider’s perspective is one of the most important things that Hatzalah volunteers do when helping families with medical emergencies.  


Who Volunteers for Hatzalah? 


In order to be a volunteer for this organization, you have to be a very special person with a neshama that will rise to the heavens. Not only is skill required, but stamina to work at odd hours, be on call at all times, and do all this while being patient and caring. These  character traits, which Hatzalah volunteers come by naturally, are certainly what Hashem granted them, and are gained from what they learned at home. The average individual may wish that they had the ability to truly multi-task, but these Hatzalah volunteers can do it all. They have solid values that lead them to want to volunteer with Hatzalah, and they demonstrate a serious work ethic. As a community, we should be so proud of them, and recognize them often. If we are lucky, our children will emulate the way these selfless volunteers conduct themselves.   


Hatzalah volunteers are trained and certified Emergency Medical Technicians, and some are nationally registered. All members carry a trauma and oxygen bag in the trunks of their cars. In addition, the NJ branch is currently the only EMT agency in the area to equip all of its members with an automated defibrillator. This is greatly needed when a patient is in cardiac arrest. The Hatzalah ambulance fleet contains state-of-the-art vehicles that are fully equipped with the latest and highest quality equipment.

Dispatchers – Critical to the Team

Additionally, the dispatchers are all trained in-house, to the specifications of Hatzalah Central. As the first contact when someone calls for help, it is especially crucial that the dispatchers be well trained, able to quickly ascertain the nature of the emergency, and can relate to the callers in a compassionate manner while being 100 percent professional. The dispatchers play a critical role, as they are the ones who ensure proper help is sent, and in a timely fashion. Their role in Hatzalah is often overlooked, since they are not at the emergency scenes. But, they are a critical component of the Hatzalah team.

A Personal Story  

There is a personal reason I wrote this article. I want to share something beautiful about Hatzalah with the community at large. First, a little background. My parents moved to Long Branch, NJ after my dad retired, and they hoped their children would follow. After my last child graduated from college, I felt that the time was right for my family to move. We bought a larger home together with my parents to accommodate all of us. That way, I would be right there to help my parents on a daily basis, and could be there for them 24 hours a day. My father was no longer able to drive, and my parents hated taking a car service. My mother was getting frustrated with Instacart. After moving, I was so thankful I could help them with the day-to-day things, including banking, going to lunch, doctor appointments, etc. But more importantly, I was able to talk to them, cook them meals, clean up, and let them rest. 

We needed to call Hatzalah for my father a number of times over the course of several months. Each time, he needed to go to the hospital for different reasons. When we called the first time, I must tell you that only minutes passed – I really mean minutes! It is truly unbelievable. One moment, you are on your own, and the next minute Hatzalah volunteers are by your side helping you. It is incredible to witness, and is immensely comforting. You know that cozy feeling when you warm yourself under a blanket? Well, that is how you feel in their presence. 

What Happens When Hatzalah Hits the Scene

They are always professional, and go into patient-care mode seamlessly. They ask questions and try to assess the situations as quickly as they can, while trying to calm down the other family members, as well as the patient. This is multitasking at its finest, especially when there are multiple people living in a home (like mine!). Everyone has an opinion, people are going in multiple directions, and it can be hard to concentrate on what to do in the moment. The Hatzalah team brings the situation together to form a game plan, which is just what everyone needs during stressful times. 

Each time we had to call Hatzalah, the volunteers who came took care of my father  as if he was a family member. They employed care, patience, warmth, and knowledge. Often, it was confusing to determine what to do for him. We leaned on the Hatzalah volunteers to guide us. It was as if they were holding our hands throughout the ordeal, and we thank them from the bottom of our hearts.  

From the Patient’s Side

On another occasion, my husband had to call Hatzalah for me. I was having chest pains that would not go away. It was not the first time I felt these, so I was beginning to really panic. My husband called them, although I initially protested, and of course, they were there in minutes. They immediately took my blood pressure, put electrodes on my chest, and determined that I needed to go to the hospital. While in the ambulance, which was moving fast, someone proceeded to drew blood from my arm. Did I mention that it was a bumpy ride?  I could not believe that anyone could really do this in a speeding vehicle! Once at the hospital, the staff said there was no need to redo the blood test. It was just perfect. This was simply amazing to me! And I was thankful that it was already done, and I did not have to do this at the hospital.

In Conclusion 

In conclusion, I want our community to remember that we are not alone. That is one of the things that makes our community so special. We have wonderful organizations and people to help us get through life’s difficulties. Chas V’ Shalom, we should never need to call upon them, but just knowing they are a phone call away is so reassuring. Our community is truly blessed to have such a treasure available to us at all times. 

This article is especially dedicated to my father, Mordecai Ackman, a”h. He passed away at 93, and it still feels fresh to me, as tears blur my vision while writing this article. Even though many people say he lived to a ripe old age, he was my daddy, and I still miss him dearly. When we all lived together, I thought I would have had more time to enjoy him. He passed away less than a year after we moved. I guess we always wish we had more time to spend with those we love. Although now, I am able to be there for my mother, who was the light of my father’s eyes.

Michele Shrem is a professional writer, who has written for several magazines, as well as being a resume writer for a community organization. She has been married for over 30 years, and has three beautiful children. She resides in NJ.