United Rescue, a volunteer organization that provides pre-ambulance care to victims of trauma, will hold a reception in Englewood on November 16 at 8 p.m. to raise awareness for the launch of its new Englewood location. The event will take place at Jonathan Agus’s residence, located at 390 Booth Avenue. At the event, representatives will be on hand to discuss the organization and how it operates, and also how residents can get involved and volunteer.
A not-for-profit organization, United Rescue is a model based off of Israel’s United Hatzalah, a similar volunteer-based emergency organization. Both began with creator Eli Beer, who started United Hatzalah 25 years ago. Beer, who is from Israel, had originally been an EMT and made the decision to start the company after noticing how difficult it had become for emergency services to reach victims due to the constraints of traffic and narrow streets in Israel. Introducing “ambu-cycles,” an ambulance-motorcycle hybrid that Beer described in a TedTalk in 2013 as “the fastest way to reach any medical emergencies,” United Hatzalah developed into a powerhouse force in the emergency services industry. While United Rescue is comparatively young when contrasted with United Hatzalah, both use the same framework and are dedicated to helping citizens in need on a day-to-day basis.
“The volunteers are ‘normal’ people doing extraordinary things for others, within the framework of their day-to-day lives,” United Hatzalah volunteer Cedric Bollag shared on United Rescue’s website. “It’s always been a childhood dream of mine, even from a young age, to be a volunteer when I saw the volunteers in my community rushing to save lives.”
United Rescue’s first location was in Jersey City, but it has since begun branching out into other suburbs. According to their website, each year they treat over 250,000 people in Israel. Consisting of over 3,500 volunteers, they pride themselves on having a response time of under three minutes. The organization operates using “a central system [that] locates the nearest volunteer through a GPS-enabled app on the volunteer’s phone. The volunteer arrives by foot, bicycle, e-bike or ambu-cycle generally within three minutes to begin treatment before the ambulance arrives.” In Jersey City, Community Based Emergency Caregivers (CBECs) are the people who make the organization work, and they are described as “certified and equipped volunteers ready to respond to 911 medical calls in the moments that separate life from death.”
Michael Brown, a representative of United Rescue, described the organization as “by the community, for the community,” stressing the importance of the moments after a person suffers trauma. An example he used to highlight United Rescue’s accomplishments was of a 27-year-old man who had a heart attack while in an exercise course. Thanks to United Rescue’s GPS technology, a volunteer, who was working in a building next door, was on the scene performing CPR within two minutes. The paramedics arrived shortly thereafter, but due to the volunteer’s prompt response the man was able to walk out of the hospital after only a short stay. It is because of situations like this that United Rescue continues to work on improving its response time, Brown explained. With United Hatzalah having an average response time of 90 seconds in some urban areas, Brown hopes to see United Rescue able to match it in the coming days.
Regarding what separates United Rescue from similar rescue organizations and initiatives, Brown feels that it’s their use of technology. In addition to the “ambu-cycles,” United Rescue also makes uses of the United Hatzalah app, SOS, which was launched following the high-profile abduction of three Israeli youths in 2014. The app has been downloaded over 150,000 times, and is used as a one-swipe emergency system that alerts authorities when used. Because of it, volunteers are able to go about their day and will receive a notification when an emergency happens near them. Many lives have been saved as a result of its implementation.
“I have never seen anything like this before,” Mehmet Oz explained on the United Rescue website. “The combination of advanced technology and such a dedicated volunteer corps is amazing to see. All these volunteers need is a smart phone and they are able to lead their lives while saving lives.”
For those interested in becoming a volunteer, the training process is done over the course of roughly five months, which includes partnering with local professionals. The training involves fieldwork, becoming CPR certified and a final approval process. While it is described as rigorous, United Rescue holds its volunteers to the highest standards, fitting of the job they are entrusted with accomplishing. “Anyone can become an emergency responder and treat a patient until emergency services arrive,” Brown commented.
All are welcome to attend this event. United Rescue is a “community-based caregiver” that is entirely locally supported. Donations play an integral part in keeping it afloat and will be accepted throughout the event. If you would like to learn more about United Rescue, please visit their website at http://unitedrescue.us/.
Adam Samuel is a journalist from Teaneck. When he isn’t busy reading the daily news, he divides his time between managing his blog, adamssoapbox.blog, and gradually learning how to play piano.
By Adam Samuel