On Sunday, United Hatzalah of Israel introduced a new division that will dispatch trained midwives and OB-GYN nurses to emergency calls of unexpected home births, to assist birthing mothers in their deliveries should they not be able to travel to the hospital in time. The new division got off to a running start.
“We already had two births in Jerusalem on our first day,” Raphael Poch, the International Media Spokesperson for United Hatzalah, told Breaking Israel News.
“Our first responders are trained to handle routine births that go without any problems. But if something goes wrong in a birth, it gets very complicated very fast,” Poch said. “That’s when special training is essential. In those situations, we tell our first responders to not touch anything and to just get the mother to the hospital as fast as possible.”
Hatzalah receives approximately 200 calls involving births every month and the organizers quickly realized a solution was needed. They put out a call for volunteers for the pilot program in Jerusalem and more than 30 people responded.
Dr. Aryeh Jaffe, an OB-GYN at Sha’are Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem and a United Hatzalah volunteer, will oversee the program together with EMT-b Gitty Beer who runs the women’s division of the organization.
“As someone who works in delivery rooms, I see that the EMS teams, as good as they are, are often inexperienced when it comes to instances of active home labors,” Dr. Jaffe said. “As a paramedic in the field, I have helped 55 women deliver their babies. Today, as I conduct deliveries daily, I see how much was lacking from the training I received as an EMS responder. The difference between giving birth with a properly trained midwife or without one can be the difference between life and death both for the mother and infant, or an injury sustained by the infant that can accompany the child for the rest of its life.”
Jaffe explained where the idea for the new unit originated. “I had a number of cases in which I had to call a midwife that I happened to know to assist in a home birth that was taking place near where the midwife happened to live. After this happened a few times, I thought that it would be beneficial to patients all over the country to create this unit and be able to dispatch trained personnel who would be able to respond and give the proper level of care needed to mothers all over the country.”
Beer added that the program will be starting as a pilot project this week in Jerusalem, and from there will spread across the entire country.
“Since we began advertising the new unit, we have had dozens of midwives and nurses join and will now be providing a response in Jerusalem and the surrounding area. Each new volunteer will receive an EMS birthing kit as well as an infant CPR kit that contains all of the medical equipment that is needed to properly assist in a delivery and maintain the health of both the mother and the infant should an emergency arise during delivery. Our Dispatch and Command Center will now send the new volunteers alerts to their phone of birthing incidents in their vicinity based on their GPS location via United Hatzalah’s emergency responder application.”