In Israel, unity is the most appropriate and effective response to tragedy


Unfortunately, we as a society have suffered from terror attacks all too often. One might think it would be natural for a society, who has suffered as many attacks as Israel has, to become desensitized to these atrocities. Israel however has not succumbed to such a fate. Our enemies commit attack after attack against us, with the intent to kill, maim and demoralize us as a society. We fight back, day after day, by uniting to save lives and create a society of proper coexistence, rather than one of hate.

It is no secret that trauma can build hate. Hate can be a natural reaction to suffering a traumatic event at the hands of another person, especially if that person is of another race or nationality. But the mission of United Hatzalah is not only to treat the injured, but to build up communities as well. We achieve our goal by uniting people from many different backgrounds, religions and socioeconomic groupings, and point them all to one main goal: saving lives.

Our community-based responder program was developed based on the idea that people in the community, in any community, can join together and form a network of trained individuals committed to saving lives. With the proper training and medical equipment, “regular” everyday people can become heroes in their own communities. Our heroes, those who leave their jobs, their families and personal lives to rush out at any given moment and save others, includes Jews, Arabs, Druze, Bedouin and Christians. They hail from different backgrounds, hold different beliefs and speak many different languages. Together, they increase the resiliency of their own communities in the face of tragedy.

When they all come together, as part of a national volunteer first-response organization, they increase the resiliency of the whole country. Many of our Jerusalem-based Arab volunteers responded to the truck attack two weeks ago and treated those in need.

Whether it was by directing operations from our dispatch and command center or treating people on the ground, secular Jews, national religious Jews, haredi Jews and secular and religious Arab and Christian volunteers all worked together to provide the fastest and most comprehensive and professional response possible. What’s more, our volunteer medics are always first on the scene and treat all patients without charging them for our services.

We know that these attacks leave lasting marks on our society and on the people who suffered needlessly at the hands of a terrorist, and we know that not all injuries are physical. That is why United Hatzalah built a team of professionally trained volunteers whose job it is to stabilize those who suffer or witness trauma. This team treats shock victims, family members, eyewitnesses, bystanders and even our own EMS teams. We call this unit our Psychotrauma Unit. This unit has taken upon itself the task of providing all of these people with psychological treatment as fast as possible.

Our experienced volunteers have also become used to seeing these scenes, but one never really becomes desensitized; on the contrary, we mobilize. Every scene is shocking, and every scene is different, and we need to help everyone — regardless of who they are — however we can, in order to minimize the damage done by those who wish to harm us as a unified people. To do this best, we need to respond together, unified, as a people.

When a terrorist drives back and forth over their victims in order to cause more damage, and more harm, they are attempting to kill and injure our brothers, sisters, sons and daughters in an effort to shatter our resolve as a people.Our response should be to come together as a people and save as many lives as we can, to comfort one another and to build together. While they attempt to shatter, destroy and kill, we continue to treat, to save and to unify, and in that effort we will be victorious.

Eli Beer is president and founder of United Hatzalah in Israel.

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