Hatzolah/Hatzalah (“rescue” or “relief” in Hebrew: הצלה‎) is a volunteer Emergency Medical Service (EMS) organization serving mostly Jewish communities around the world. Most local branches operate independently of each other, but use the common name. The Hebrew spelling of the name is always the same, but there are many variations in transliteration, such as Hatzolah, Hatzoloh, Hatzalah, and Hatzola. It is also often called Chevra Hatzalah, which loosely translates as “Company of Rescuers” or “Group of Rescuers.”


What is Hatzoloh?

Hatzoloh `{`huts-u-la = Hebrew for rescue`}` was started in Williamsburg, New York in 1965, for the purpose of responding to the unique cultural and religious needs of the Jewish community and improving pre-hospital emergency medical care. Over the years, Hatzoloh New York has developed into the largest volunteer ambulance service in North America. In fact, they were the first EMS personnel to arrive at the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001. Hatzoloh has chapters in other cities throughout the world as well, including, Montreal, Los Angeles, Miami, London, Johannesburg, Melbourne, Antwerp and Israel. Hatzoloh Toronto is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to rapidly respond to the emergency medical needs of the Toronto Jewish community. Hatzoloh also complements the local ambulance service by providing rapid, high quality, non-transport care within minutes of being dispatched. Hatzoloh Toronto also ensures that 911 has been called and remains with its patients until a transfer of care to ambulance personnel has occurred. Hatzoloh has been instrumental in the saving of thousands of people’s lives and in the assistance of others in their times of need.

What are Hatzoloh’s origins in Toronto?

Beginning in April, 1998, Hatzoloh Toronto initially serviced the neighborhoods bordered by Eglinton Avenue, Sheppard Avenue, Allen Road and Avenue Road. With only ten responders and four dispatchers, we provided service on evenings, weekends and Civic and Jewish holidays. Since then, Hatzoloh Toronto has expanded and now has 60 volunteer responders and 12 volunteer dispatchers. As for coverage, Toronto and Thornhill now have 24 hour service, 7 days a week, operating along the Bathurst Street corridor from Eglinton Avenue to north of Highway 7.

Why does Toronto need Hatzoloh?

Because our volunteers are members of the community, they have a unique perception and understanding of the needs of Toronto’s Jewish community. This includes knowledge of Jewish law, as well as the ability to converse with elderly immigrant patients in their native tongue. In addition, many patients, typically Holocaust survivors, will not readily access the EMS system. They will however be more comfortable asking members of their community for help. Hatzoloh's target response time is also under 3 minutes, 100% of the time. In contrast, Toronto ambulance is designed to respond to life-threatening calls in 9 minutes, a target that is met only 69% of the time.

How is Hatzoloh able to respond so quickly?

Our volunteer responders are a group of dedicated individuals who have a tremendous concern for the well being of the people of their community. They are professionals, salespeople, business owners or lay people, who live and work in the communities that we service. When an emergency arises, they stop whatever they are doing in order to help others. Often they only have to travel across the street or down the block in order to respond to a call.

What are our responders’ qualifications?

Hatzoloh’s dedicated community volunteers are trained to respond and attend to medical emergencies, at any time, day or night. Our responders undergo approximately 250 hours of training, which is on par with basic ambulance personnel in most North American cities. When they complete their training, they receive the certification of an Emergency Medical Responder. In fact, under the supervision of Robert Burgess, Senior Manager, Sunnybrook & Women’s College Health Sciences Centre Division of Pre-hospital Care, our responders were the first group in Ontario to receive certification in this program.

In what other areas are our responders competent?

Our responders can currently administer EPI Pens, ASA and Ventolin, as well as blood glucose tests.

Is Hatzoloh affiliated with any organizations?

Hatzoloh Toronto responders are all members of the Ontario Paramedic Association. We are the only volunteer organization to have been accorded such membership. We are proud to belong to such a distinguished organization.

What kind of equipment do responders carry?

In addition to a two way radio and uniforms, each responder is equipped with a jump kit as is found on any ambulance. This would include body substance isolation items, basic life support airway equipment, oxygen tank & accessories, basic diagnostic equipment, symptom relief medication & injection kit, IV kits, and trauma supplies as well. Thanks to the generous support of the community, each responder now has a semi-automatic external defibrillator with them at all times. As well, we have recently started a new initiative and have been purchasing state of the art cardiac monitors/defibrillators and training the responders for the early detection of acute myocardial infarctions. (Heart attack) With additional funding our goal is to replace all our AED’s with cardiac monitors. Contact the main office for sponsorship opportunities.


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