Photo Credit: United Hatzalah

Jonathan Abraham, a diamond merchant (broker) and volunteer EMT for United Hatzalah, was at Ben Gurion International Airport on his way to one of his routine business trips abroad. “I was about to update my status on our LifeCompass dispatch app to ‘not available’ and just a moment later I received an alert,” he recalled. There had been a car accident just yards away, in front of the terminal.

The LifeCompass app isn’t the newest social networking platform, but rather, a customized GPS colocation tool developed in Israel by United Hatzalah to dispatch trained emergency responders to the scene of an emergency in the fastest most efficient manner possible.

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“I didn’t have my luggage so I ran, and within minutes treated a family that had sustained minor injuries in a collision,” said Abraham, a trained EMT with nearly three years’ experience volunteering with United Hatzalah. When not attending to emergencies, Abraham works in the Diamond District Exchange in Ramat Gan and lives with his family nearby.

This is precisely the whole idea behind United Hatzalah and the organization’s revolutionary life-saving technology: seconds often make the difference between life and death and saving time when dispatching first responders Ends up saving lives.

The first minutes after an accident are vital in saving lives, said Eli Beer, president and founder of Hatzalah, who first became a emergency responder in 1988, at the age of 15. “Our goal is to arrive at the scene as quickly as possible and take initial measures to stabilize the victim until the local ambulance service arrives,” he explained. In this hyperlocal age, the model has been wildly successful, gaining recognition from organizations and governments worldwide. The United Hatzalah system, ideology and tools now are being implemented in across North and South America, Europe, Argentina, Brazil, Panama, Lithuania, Ukraine, and Rwanda. Recently, AIPAC lauded the organization for its leadership role in Israeli innovations and international presence.

Why United Hatzalah works “At United Hatzalah, we have two important powers that help us save lives: the first is our manpower and the second is our technology,” said David Krispil, IT manager for the organization.

Today, the organization, which started with 15 volunteers, has over 2,500 volunteer, trained medics and emergency responders. As a volunteer organization and not-for-profit, United Hatzalah does not hire paramedics, but rather relies on its national network of volunteers to rise to action. It also provides its services for free.

“How can I inform my volunteers, if it is not their job to be on call? We don’t want to disturb them unnecessarily during their daily routine with calls that are not relevant, yet we need to activate them rapidly in an emergency,” explained Krispil, who was part of the team in 2008 that began working with various Israeli tech companies to develop the perfect solution.

“We developed an application that allows us to know instantaneously the location of the incident and the location ofthe nearest volunteers,” he said. Using an advanced system called NowForce app, anyone – victim or eyewitness – can report an accident with the smartphone app, online or by direct dialing a United Hatzalah dispatcher.. Known as LifeCompass, this platform integrates mapping, GPS technology, photos and even video to produce a detailed report and send a qualified emergency responder within seconds. By creating a virtual perimeter, the system processes the incident in one-and-a-half seconds and tracks the nearest qualified volunteers. Then, this wireless system alerts and guides the volunteer to the scene within THREE minutes.

“This ensures we are the fastest at responding,” said Krispil. “It all happens with one click.”

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