“In 2017, just five of their Christian volunteers responded to nearly 1,000 emergency calls around Israel,” Poch told Breaking Israel News.
Although the number of Christian volunteers in Hatzalah is relatively low, their impact is very widely felt.
“While they may be a minority in the current makeup of Israel and in the organization, their contribution is not insignificant by any means,” stressed Poch. “These men and women are always on call and drop whatever it is that they are doing to rush out and save the life of a stranger.”
The Christian ethic of being a good Samaritan has perhaps a special meaning when it is being done in the land in which the phrase was coined,” Poch added.
Sroor Abood, one of United Hatzalah’s Christian volunteers who has been working with the organization for a year in his current hometown of Haifa, attests to the Christian ethics associated his work as an EMT for United Hatzalah.
“The organization believes in saving lives, which Christianity also believes in,” he said.
When he is not saving lives with Hatzalah, Abood is saving lives as a Doctor of Emergency Medicine in the Rambam Medical Clinic as well as in a Terem medical clinic.
Abood grew up in Peki’in, a Druze town in the Upper Galilee, and was motivated to volunteer as an EMT after seeing many of his friends and colleagues from his Terem clinic join United Hatzalah.
“I saw that it was a great way to always be able to help people and meet the people of the community,” Abood sad, reflecting back.
Abood maintains that saving lives is simply about helping people and a value superseding politics and religion.
“I look at people without putting labels on them, saying ‘this one is a Jew, that one is an Arab,’” he stressed. “I think that this is important in the field of medicine as our place is simply to help people.”
Abood often takes the tools he learns volunteering, both literally and metaphorically, and applies them to his other work with children of special needs. “One good deed breeds another,” Abood told Breaking Israel News.
Poch is very gracious for the work of the Christian volunteers like Abood, in his organization. “Christian volunteers have always been, are now and will always be a welcome addition to the United Hatzalah family and network of first responders,” he said.
“They provide vital emergency medical response in their communities,” he continued. “The selfless devotion shown by our volunteers from all backgrounds is beyond parallel,”
Poch also said that his Christian volunteers have also fulfilled a value of utmost importance in Judaism, which is saving a Jewish life.
“As the Talmud tells us, anyone who saves a single life in Israel it is as if they have saved the entire world,” he noted. “The number of worlds our Christian volunteers have saved and the lives that they have touched are innumerable.”
“As an organization and as a people we are indebted to these volunteers who give of themselves so that others may live.”
Abood told Breaking Israel News that he is proud to be using innovative methods as a volunteer with Hatzalah, allowing him “to reach patients before the ambulance and beginning treatment as quickly as possible.”
“The whole idea of the innovation of this idea, is new and it happened here in Israel.”