Israel Now Has Unified First-Responder System


Magen David Adom, Israel’s emergency medical services (EMS) organization, has announced the establishment of a unified first-responder system in the country.

Implementing a 2014 decision by the Health Ministry, the new policy means that the five closest first responders will be dispatched when someone calls the nationwide emergency 1-0-1 phone number, no matter which EMS organization the first responder is affiliated with.

This procedure, which took effect last month, will avoid competition between the 6,500 first responders of MDA and the 1,800 under the auspices of United Hatzalah, which was the only organization not previously dispatched by MDA, Israel’s member of the International Red Cross/Red Crescent organization. (A lawsuit filed in December by MDA against United Hatzalah is ongoing.)

First responders, which include EMTs, paramedics and other first-aid providers, typically arrive at the scene of a medical emergency several minutes ahead of ambulances, playing a crucial role in providing life-saving preliminary care. In Israel, first responders often travel to medical emergencies in specially equipped motorcycles or their own vehicles.

The location of first responders is determined by MDA’s geolocation system. MDA also deploys some 17,000 CPR-certified civilians, among them doctors and nurses and other health care professionals, who are notified if there is a critical medical emergency in their immediate vicinity.

“With the implementation of this Ministry ruling, Israelis only need to call Magen David Adom’s emergency dispatch number to be assured that the nearest first responders will get to the scene quickly,” said Eli Bin, the organization’s director general. “With this unified structure, the Israeli public’s medical needs will be better served and potentially even more lives saved.”