By Zalman Cohen – M11, Hatzalah of Miami-Dade, Florida
Last night, at 8:59 PM EST, while sitting at my dining-room table peeling potatoes for the Shabbos chulent, my phone started beeping incessantly.
I was horrified to see texts reporting about a member of the United Hatzoloh who was involved in a motor vehicle accident in the center of Jerusalem. This happened while he was responding on his ‘ambucycle’ on the way to a medical emergency.
My heart started to race as the follow-up messages indicated that the situation was not good. CPR was in progress and the outlook was bleak. Like many others, I stopped what I was doing and pulled out a Tehillim and started davening for one of my brothers, one whom I had never met, who was desperately in need of Rachmei Shamayim.
Unfortunately, Hashem had other plans and Effi Gadassi A”H was tragically taken from all of us.
Scanning through the hundreds of posts and message from various social media sources, both EMS related as well as local news sites, I was upset by the insensitivity of many of the posters.
Many were criticizing the use of motorcycles as a means of responding. Others were blaming the current model of Emergency Medical Services in Israel. While nothing can be further from the truth of what actually occurred, it really struck a raw nerve.
At the time of the accident, it was approximately 3:30 AM IST. Here was one of our brothers, who had gotten out of bed in the middle of the night, to help someone in need. This type of a response is performed on a daily basis throughout the world with absolutely no recognition or fanfare.
Tragically, for the sin of trying to save a life, there are now 3 orphans being raised by their widowed mother. Generally, we as responding members, go about doing our business, even in the middle of the night, without people being aware of it.
At that time of the day, the lights, sirens and pomp, (aka “the glory”) are irrelevant. Trust me, the next morning when you wake up tired and sore, glory is the furthest thing from your mind. Remember, we are not paid crews. We are simply your brother, neighbor or friend who give our all to make sure you are in good hands.
Let this tragedy remind us all how fragile life is. Let it remind us who we all are. We have families, jobs, and commitments but let nothing stand in the way when you’re in pain. We are one. We can always Monday night quarterback and question the how or why something happened. We can come up with solutions to fix the perceived problems, try and save the world and make it a better place.
However, as someone who has responded to thousands of calls over the years, many in the middle of the night, I hope this tragic accident reminds you to be thankful.
Thankful that there are thousands of Hatzoloh responders all over the world, not just in the Metropolitan New York City area. From Mexico to Moscow, Johannesburg to Jerusalem, and even in the smaller communities in the U.S. such as Miami and Chicago. Think about the thousands and thousands of responses that occur yearly, many of them in the middle of the coldest nights of the year while others are sleeping comfortably, blissfully unaware.
I ask all of our fellow members to dedicate the next week of calls in memory of our fallen brother Efraim ben Moshe. We should know no more pain. Yehi Zichron Baruch.