The Israel Association of Community Centers and Lev Echad have partnered with United Hatzalah of Israel and launched a new national dispatch center managing 30,000 volunteers who will provide assistance to humanitarian emergencies across Israel. The new partnership has given birth to the largest humanitarian aid group currently operating in Israel.
The mission of the new dispatch center and resulting conglomerate, which launched on Wednesday evening, will be to send volunteers to help the elderly, people with disabilities, or those stuck in home isolation as quickly as possible. The initiative, which is being dubbed, “1221 Assistance for All,” will be using technology developed by United Hatzalah to locate the closest volunteers based on the GPS on their phones and alert them to the humanitarian emergency in their proximity. The initiative, which was made possible by financial assistance from the The Family Foundation of Inbar & Marius Nacht, has received approval and praise from the Minister of Defense Naftali Bennett who promised support from his ministry. The Ministry for Social Equality will also be forwarding requests for help which it receives.
The emergency number for the new dispatch center is the same as United Hatzalah’s regular number of 1221. Humanitarian calls will be immediately routed to dispatchers who received specialized training from all three organizations that focused on catering to the needs of the people who may be calling in. In addition to regular phone calls, dispatchers will be handling calls in sign-language via video chat. The dispatch center will be open between the hours of 8:00 AM until 10:00 PM, six days a week.
All of the volunteers who registered to participate in the initiative have been outfitted with a specialized phone application that will allow the dispatch system to immediately notify the five closest responders to a humanitarian emergency. Dispatchers will also be contacting those closest to the emergency and ask that they respond and provide the assistance needed.
The assistance will include medical aid provided by trained United Hatzalah EMS personnel for those who are injured or sick, prior to the arrival of an ambulance. Logistical assistance in picking up and dropping off medicine, medical supplies, food, and immediate arrival of a volunteer to all those requesting aid. Emotional support for the elderly and those stuck due to COVID-19 regulations including phone support for those stuck in home isolation or quarantine. Lastly, the combined force of volunteers will provide assistance to those with disabilities.
Vice President of Operations of United Hatzalah Dov Maisel explained what prompted the initiative. “During the current crisis taking place in Israel, United Hatzalah volunteers are still responding to medical emergencies across Israel. As an organization that serves the public, we were unable to stay complacent in the face of what we recognized as a rising humanitarian crisis of national proportions. Numerous segments of the population are suffering as a result of the current crisis due to the dramatic shift of lifestyle now being forced upon us all. We decided to mobilize together with our partners and provide a country-wide network of volunteers that will provide aid to the elderly, people with disabilities and others in need of assistance due to isolation. We have revamped our dispatch center in order to use it for the new initiative and opened a completely new center of operations as well as adapting our specialized phone application to incorporate the rest of the volunteers who will be participating in the program.”
General Manager of the Israel Association of Community Centers, Raz Frohlich said: “The Israel Association of Community Centers of Israel, in conjunction with the local and regional councils, manages the largest volunteer system in Israel that numbers close to 30,000 pensioners, adults, and teenagers from all segments of Israeli society. There are more than 1,000 locations that make up the heart of our association that are active both on a regular basis and during emergencies. Together with United Hatzalah and Lev Echad, we will now be providing emergency humanitarian response while strengthening the resiliency of each of these communities during this time of emergency. In addition, we will be focusing on building the community resources necessary for when this situation finally comes to an end.”
Chairman of Lev Echad, Erez Eschel added: “Lev Echad has in the past assisted leading organizations during times of emergency, including Ayalim, HaShomer HaChadash, Pre-Military Academies, to create community coordinators and bridge the gap between the needs of a community and the organizations that are providing assistance. In partnering together with United Hatzalah and the Israel Association of Community Centers, we will work towards providing an emergency humanitarian response to the majority of the needs of the Israeli populace and we will plant the seeds of the foundations needed for after this situation subsides.”