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Palm Beach, FL - United Hatzalah Of Israel Founder Eli Beer Turned Painful Experience Into Lifesaving Mission

Published on: January 26, 2012 10:41 AM
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Palm Beach, FL - Witnessing a bus being blow up in front of him had a life-changing effect on Eli Beer. He was just 5 years old and living in Israel, where he was born, with his American-born parents.

“Many were hurt and killed,” he remembers, even now a painful experience to discuss. “It’s something I can’t forget. There were people yelling and asking for our help. I decided I wanted to save people’s lives. At the first opportunity, when I was 16, I joined an ambulance crew.”

But Beer found that response times were slow and that people were dying even when an ambulance was on its way. So he organized a “bunch of volunteers” to create a community of first responders. That was more than 20 years ago. Today, those first responders number 1,700 and take 500 emergency calls a day, without charging those they help.

Known as United Hatzalah of Israel, it is a nonprofit organization where all volunteers are trained in life-saving procedures and equipped with what they call “ambucycles,” bicycles that can navigate tricky pathways that ambulance drivers might be unable to negotiate.


Beer was recently in Palm Beach as the guest of Dr. Michael and Edith Gelfand, who are avid supporters of his cause.

“We passionately believe in the lifesaving mission of United Hatzalah of Israel and have been proud supporters of the organization for several years,” Michael Gelfand said.

“We were honored to have Eli Beer here in Palm Beach and to help spread the word among our community and friends about this extraordinary cause,” Edith Gelfand added.

Beer’s volunteers treated 192,000 people last year alone, he said, stressing that the goal of his group is “to get there within 2 minutes, for free.” He said that contrasts with American ambulances that try to meet an 8- to 9-minute response time. (The average response time for ambulances in Palm Beach in 2011 was “a little over 5 minutes,” Deputy Fire-Rescue Chief Darrel Donatto said. Actually, it’s 5 minutes and 9 seconds.)

And the creation of this extraordinary group of volunteers in Israel has had an unexpected effect on Beer’s own life.

“My 11-year-old daughter, Libby, went into anaphylactic shock in her school,” he said.

“One of the kids had brought in something she was allergic to. Hatzalah saved her life. Who would think that one day this would have helped save my daughter.”

More of today's headlines

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Read Comments (4)  —  Post Yours »


 Jan 26, 2012 at 10:47 AM mewhoze Says:

Hatzalah everywhere is a wonderful thing. those who are responders are like super heroes. those who support the organization are just as important for without financial support they could not function.


 Jan 26, 2012 at 01:21 PM REBITZIN Says:

כל המקיים נפש אחת בישראל כאילו קיים עולם מלא. U saved atherosclerosis hashem saved ur doughter


 Jan 26, 2012 at 01:38 PM Anonymous Says:

I have try to get some of my goyish friend to start something like this in out of town areas where ambulance can take 15 to 20 minutes. Forget it


 Jan 26, 2012 at 11:38 PM Anonymous Says:

Not to put down United Hatzoloh of Israel,But the whole concept was formed here in New York in fact in Williamsburg some 40 years Ago,where Rabbi H, W, worked years to establish this holy Organization, the words " without charging those they help" When did Hatzoloh ever charged someone ??? this is not a EMS Corp, this is exclusively to help our community's throughout the entire metro area and the Catskills,


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