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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

United Hatzalah: Slams MDA for lack of cooperation

United Hatzalah, a volunteer rescue medical services organization in Israel, said that in recent days their volunteers have been blocked from receiving calls for medical emergencies. 

According to the group, Magen David Adom services are responsible for ensuring that volunteer rescue services are not informed of emergency rescues to which they could have tended.

Hatzalah members said their devices were blocked, which violates Health Ministry guidelines, and said it is a matter of time until it may lead to the death of civilians, to whom the volunteer organization may tend first.
In response, MDA Services noted they were under obligation to not give information to unauthorized organizations.

In July, 2011, MDA made a similar move, blocking emergency calls from hundreds of Hatzalah volunteers. The Health Ministry then demanded the volunteers be reconnected to information networks. 

The Health Ministry also commissioned a panel to test the authority division and the cooperation between factions responsible for medical emergencies.

The cooperation lasted a little over two years, but according to Hatzalah volunteers, a disconnect has once again occurred, meaning they cannot administer life-saving treatment where it is required.

They added that, against orders from the Health Ministry, there is a refusal to give Hazalah volunteer information such as the address of a wounded or ill individual – even though this could cause loss of human life.

Following the volunteers being blocked from information, United Hatzalah Chairman Zeev Kashash turned to Health Minister Yael German: "In recent weeks, the MDA has been working systematically to prevent the passing of information to Hazalah volunteers, in strict defiance of the Health Ministry's instruction," he wrote.

"This activity by MDA to prevent information transfer has reached its peak in the past few days. MDA has been working for several weeks to replace pagers and MIRS devices that medics use. 

Under technological guise, MDA is using the process to withhold information from the Hatzalah volunteers – some of whom are doctors – and paramedics who can save lives if need be."

According to Union Hatzalah, the process of disconnecting volunteers from information networks has worsened in the past month and a half. Some volunteers were invited to upgrade their devices, and never got them back.

"It is unacceptable that MDA will have all the information about an individual who is suffocating or bleeding to death and pass it on to only those who wear its uniforms," Kashash wrote to German. "And those who do not wear its uniforms, although they've been saving lives for years, will stop receiving information about life-threatening cases simply because they volunteer at a different organization. Good Samaritan laws apply here, too."

MDA said in response that "MDA services have independent information networks that are not connected to any other faction or individual. 

We will stress that any individual who carries an MDA transmitter, listens to the MDA information network, or deceives the public regarding its ties with MDA, is committing a criminal offense.

Unfortunately, we do come across different factions who listen to the MDA radio and our communication network and make wrong and forbidden use of the information they are exposed too.

"MDA, the national rescue organization of Israel, operates on the highest professional standards, and operates almost 15,000 workers, volunteers, and individuals on call who rescue lives every day while receiving necessary training from MDA and while using the most advanced technological equipment.

"When a citizen calls MDA for help, we are obligated to provide them with service by professional individuals only, and not, God forbid, those who have not been trained and do not operate under MDA standards.

It is of course unthinkable that we will cooperate or use factions that are outside of the MDA network of professionals who have been specifically trained for this goal.

"It should be further mentioned that the law forbids MDA from giving away confidential information to unauthorized factions outside the organization. MDA is committed to act according to law," the MDA statement asserted.

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