Rachel Freier (l.) recruited Hadassah Strauss (c.) and Sarah Grunbaum to join all-women ambulance service in Borough Park, Brooklyn
Borough Park lawyer Rachel Freier recruits 50 women for Ezras Nashim
The all-male Hatzolah EMT crew snubbed them — so a group of Brooklyn Jewish women are starting their own ladies-only ambulance service.
Borough Park lawyer Rachel Freier, 46, held the first recruitment drive Sunday for Ezras Nashim — Hebrew for “assisting women” — in her dining room.
She signed up 50 members from across the borough.
“If women are having an emergency, they should have the option of calling a woman,” Freier said.
Ezras Nashim will focus on helping mothers in labor. Their goal is to train 50 EMTs and birthing assistants by the planned September launch.
“This is not a new idea,” said new Ezras member Hadassah Strauss, 26. “Women have been delivering babies for thousands of years.”
Hatzolah leaders shot down Freier’s request last fall to let women into its 1,300 all-male corps, the city’s largest volunteer ambulance crew, which answers more than 50,000 calls a year.
The Hatzolah men argued that male and female EMTs working side by side could lead to improper relationships that would violate Jewish modesty laws.
Hatzolah also questioned whether giving patients the option to choose a female medic would increase its average response time of about three minutes — considerably lower than the FDNY EMS average response time of eight minutes in 2011.
But there’s no hard feelings. “I wish them good luck,” said Hatzolah president Heshy Jacob.
Women have complained that having their local Hatzolah respond when they are in labor is awkward since they may see those same men in synagogue and in the grocery store.
I know women who are traumatized after delivering in front of so many men. That’s why I am here,” said a Williamsburg woman at the recruitment drive.
Ezras Nashim plans to survive on donations and is asking new recruits to pay for their own $1,000 training. Freier is also in talks with a private ambulance company to rush patients to the hospital, so the group won’t have to go through a costly state certification for emergency medical transportation.
Borough Park and Flatbush have the city’s highest concentrations of babies — predominantly born to Jewish women — according to the latest U.S. Census statistics.