Friday, February 28, 2020

So many people in this area regularly follow what’s going on in Israel. They send money, they daven and they say to themselves, “If I only I could do something.” Thanks to the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, now they can. On March 11, Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey (JFNNJ), in conjunction with Emergency Volunteers Project (EVP), a non-profit Israeli agency authorized by the Israeli government, will hold an all-day training for people who would like to serve as a backup force of emergency responders in Israel in the event of an emergency.

The training will have three tracks: one for firefighters, one for physicians, nurses and paramedics and one for community volunteers. The training will be led by Israeli firefighters, medical professionals and members of the Israeli Defense Force. Volunteers will learn cutting-edge techniques from these first responders and be certified to volunteer in Israel by the end of the day. Medical professionals will receive temporary licensure to practice in Israeli hospitals.

As part of the certification process, volunteers will be trained in firefighting, urban search and rescue (USAR), EMS, terror response, water distribution and more.

Ethan Behling, director of Jewish Federation’s Center for Israel Engagement, told The Jewish Link: “All community members are welcome, regardless of medical background or emergency training. All that’s needed is a desire to help others.”

“One of the basic tenets of Jewish Federation is creating a stronger, more vibrant Jewish experience in northern New Jersey, Israel and around the world, wherever Jews live,” said Franci Steinberg, chair of Jewish Federation’s Partnership2Gether Committee, “We were looking for a new initiative, keeping in mind our priority area to ensure the safety and security of Israel. It really fit in line with our priorities and it’s a great way for our volunteers to join together with other like-minded individuals and stand with Israel.”

The first responders will not be teaching firefighters how to put out fires or teach physicians how to treat the sick. Rather, they’ll help the volunteers become familiar with Israeli practices which may be different than those in New Jersey, and they’ll learn what to expect were they to respond to an emergency in Israel.

The training will feature lectures, live simulations and drills in each area. Regardless of specialty, everyone will be trained in search and rescue procedures.

Following the certification, the JFNNJ volunteers will be available for deployment to Israel with their team or as individuals if whole teams cannot deploy, for scenarios such as natural disasters (earthquake, floods, tsunami, major wildfire etc.), mass casualty incidents (major incident or accident at a power plant, fires etc.) or war (regional conflict, war on all fronts, major terror attack with mass casualties). At that time, EVP will assess the need and will contact JFNNJ and let them know how many volunteers are needed. Volunteers will deploy for up to two weeks and then will return to the States and a new group of volunteers will replace them.

“We recognize that everyone has lives and careers so people will go for a finite period of time,” Steinberg shared. “We encourage people to get certified because the training itself is a fantastic experience to learn and to train and also, you never know what emergency might happen. It’s nice to be able to act on that,” said Behling.

Steinberg told The Jewish Link: “Israel is always there to help with relief efforts around the world. It’s nice to know that we, as Federation, would do the same thing for Israel. We’re preparing ourselves and this is a wonderful way to bring us together as a community and prepare us to be ready. Our commitment to Israel is very strong and we’re there to support them in good times and in bad.”

Volunteers will be required to complete, sign and submit a medical evaluation form and provide a medical doctor’s statement that they are able to meet the physical demands of a deployed environment. Volunteers must be at least 20 years old to take part in the training.

Training will run from 8am-7pm at a northern New Jersey location. Meals are included in the $60 registration fee (waived for firefighters). Dietary laws will be observed. To register, visit jfnnj.org/evp. To learn more about the event contact Ethan Behling at [email protected] or call 201-820-3955.