History of Hatzolah:

Hatzolah is derived from the Hebrew word, “lehatsil”, meaning to save. The original Hatzolah was a first responder agency formed by Orthodox New York Jews in 1973 to provide a service to the local community. They were trained in basic first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and were equipped with oxygen. Other Hatzolah groups have been established all over the United States and in other countries including Israel, the United Kingdom, Canada, Mexico, South Africa and Australia.

Hatzolah Melbourne was established in 1994 initially to build a bridge between an ageing generation of Holocaust survivors afraid of calling for medical assistance due to the fear of external agencies wearing uniforms.

In addition, there was recognition of the care needs of Melbourne’s ageing Jewish population and their specific cultural, religious and emotional needs. In addition, there was concern that a large number of elderly people in the Jewish community did not have a good grasp of the English language, and were therefore not able to call for help in a medical emergency.

Hatzolah FAQs 

Chevra Hatzolah Melbourne Inc. (Hatzolah) is a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) that operates within the Emergency Medical Response (EMR) program of Ambulance Victoria, and is a First Aid Agency under the State Health Emergency Response Plan (SHERP). 

Hatzolah has a close working relationship with Ambulance Victoria, with the united aim of providing the best patient care to members of the Jewish and wider Community within its serviceable area. Hatzolah responds equally to any person from any background in need of medical assistance. 

Hatzolah is primarily Community funded and receives some government and organisational grants. 

Hatzolah does not charge patients for its medical emergency response services. 

Ambulance Victoria train all of the Hatzolah Responders with initial training including a foundation level of the Certificate II in Medical Emergency First Response. Additional accreditation programs have been designed and/or adopted for Responders including specific emergency medical administration (e.g. methoxyfluorane, salbutamol and nytroglycerin) and the use of laryngoscope and magills forceps in the event of choking emergencies. 

Hatzolah’s volunteer Responders are ready to respond to all classes of medical emergencies, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and manage patients until Ambulance Victoria arrives. Our Volunteer Responders are not bound by rosters or timetables. 

Each responder carries a full set of emergency medical equipment in their private cars. Equipment includes: semi-automated defibrillators, oxygen, medications and general first response equipment. 

During the COVID-19 Pandemic there are additional questions that you can see here.

Responders all carry 2-way-radios and their location is GPS tracked. On receipt of a call to Hatzolah’s emergency number, the Dispatcher locates the closest Responder on Hatzolah’s custom Computer Aided Dispatch System and requests for the appropriate number of Responders by the radio. 

A dispatch grid has been agreed with Ambulance Victoria where for certain medical emergencies Ambulance Victoria will be called immediately or the Dispatcher will wait until receiving further information from the Responders once they arrive on scene. 

Hatzolah’s primary response area is within the suburbs of East St Kilda, Balaclava, Caulfield, Elsternwick, Ripponlea, Malvern and St Kilda. Future Responder intakes seek to expand the core response area. 

Call Hatzolah first. The existence of Hatzolah’s service to the community means that time-critical medical emergencies can be managed until Ambulance Victoria arrives. For example, in the event of a cardiac arrest, the chance of patient survival decreases by 10% for each minute that CPR and Defibrillation is delayed. With an average response time of 4 minutes in Hatzolah’s key geographical area, Hatzolah is a critical link in the Chain of Survival, joining the wider First Response organisations including the Metropolitan Fire Brigade.

Many other medical emergencies, from strokes to choking and respiratory distress, are time critical, and Hatzolah’s average 4 minute response time in its core area means patient treatment can be initiated while an ambulance is on its way. 

Responding to the wider Victorian community, Hatzolah is also partnered with Ambulance Victoria and other first responder groups as part of the GoodSAM program launched by the Government in May 2018. 

Hatzolah operates under adapted AV clinical practice guidelines, and its clinical governance process includes a Medical Standards Committee, which includes high-level AV membership. A memorandum of understanding outlines the relationship between the two organisations. In addition, Hatzolah has its own ethical and religious review boards.