February 27, 2024
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Clarification on Hatzalah

Thank you very much for your coverage of the launch of Bergen Hatzalah-Englewood Division (“Englewood to Launch Hatzalah,” January 28, 2021). I appreciated reading of the enthusiastic support for Bergen Hatzalah from TVAC members and Teaneck Deputy Mayor Mark Schwartz and of Councilwoman Karen Orgen.

There are some points I think warrant clarification.

Bergen Hatzalah’s Englewood Division is being set up as a first response service, meaning that the goal is to get emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and physicians to a patient’s side as fast as possible to initiate care while the ambulance, from a separate agency, responds to assume care and transport. This is a service that is not offered by any other group in Englewood or in fact in Bergen County.

The current efforts to bring Hatzalah to Bergen County are focused on this model, and we in Englewood are proud to be leading the charge by working with all groups who want to volunteer to help their neighbors, especially when it will ensure collaboration between city, professional and volunteer resources. These groups include our emergency medical services groups including the Englewood Volunteer Ambulance Corps (EVAC), the hospital’s EMS and soon Bergen Hatzalah, which all working in tandem will ensure that those experiencing an emergency, whether they dial for Hatzalah or 911, will receive the top care, and all organizations will be able to collaborate to best serve the patient as expeditiously as possible.

I would also like to express my admiration for the dedicated members of the EVAC, as their mayor who regularly receives actual reports on their great work. The article may have been taken by some to imply criticism of EVAC. If so, that is not a view I, or Bergen Hatzalah share. Rather, everyone appreciates their ongoing efforts, which are nothing short of heroic, and we look forward to watching the collaboration prosper.

The Hatzalah concept—highly trained and well-equipped volunteers responding directly to calls in their personal vehicles—is tried and true. An ambulance is an invaluable tool in saving lives, and we seek to complement, not compete with, that service. Hatzalah volunteers have saved hundreds of thousands of lives (if not millions) around the world since the 1960s when the organization was founded in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It responds to all emergencies regardless of the caller’s faith, religion or ethnicity and the unit here will do so as well.

Michael Wildes
Englewood Mayor
30-year veteran Hatzalah EMT
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