Author’s Note: The author wishes to thank his older brother Ron and publicly acknowledge him as one of the best practitioners of the biblical dictum:’Thou art thy brother’s keeper’ who, when we were kids, kept his little brother out of trouble and harm’s way for more years than this now much older little brother would care to remember.
Everything was always taken care of for me as a kid because older brother Ron was always around, close by, just in case. It was Ron’s nature to put his little brother’s needs ahead of his own and so he remains to this very day. Some years ago, his little brother likened him to a firefighter, the type of human who will run into the inferno if told one of the children never came out. We call these people ‘givers’, selfless souls, who are some of our greatest heroes.
How we regard our fellow human being: as either a bridge over which to cross for the ‘good’ or a rag on which to step to avoid muddying our shoes is fundamental to the formation of life-long ethical values and moral outlook.
It is often said and correctly so that the great majority of generalizations are next to worthless because they are unconcerned with details.When merged into any one of an infinite variety of combinations, the addition of new detailed information can cause contradictory and exceptional cases to arise. The effect, however, does not render the generalizations meaningless necessarily; on the contrary, they become more meaningful because they now mirror life more realistically with all its bumps and bruises.These exceptional cases often feature ‘givers’ in their tales.
Hatzalah (Hebrew-of or referring to ‘rescue’ or ‘relief”)
This writer wishes to emphasize that Hatzalah Chicago, a Jewish community-based emergency ambulance service has just begun its fifth year as an alternate emergency medical services provider in the Chicagoland area. Hatzalah is NOT in competition with the Chicago Fire Department nor does Hatzalah perform any role in firefighting. That is the sole responsibility of the Chicago Fire Department.
Its declared mission is ‘to improve medical outcomes and save lives by enhancing existing emergency medical services. Hatzalah Chicago provides BLS (Basic Life Support) in order to stabilize the patient and, depending on the level of care necessary, provide transport or transfer care of their patients to 911.’
Coordination not competition in a shared effort to save lives is the core of Hatzalah Chicago. At its recent appreciation dinner event, in celebration of its first four years of ‘smooth sailing’, Hatzalah attributed a goodly portion of its success to the Lincolnwood, Skokie, Evanston and Chicago Police Departments for their generous and invaluable assistance during this critical trial period. Consequently, the volunteer responders of the Chevra Hatzalah Volunteer Ambulance Corps are ready and able to respond to medical emergencies 24 hours a day, 7 days per week ‘at no cost to all who need it regardless of race, religion or ethnicity.’
Should you see a Hatzalah ambulance on emergency call, pull over and stop as you would for any other emergency vehicle.
Though this writer knows fewer than a handful of the Hatzalah staff, he is certain that each and every one who volunteers does so with all their heart, all their soul and and all their might.
One of several sounds that blend into the siren of an ambulance on emergency call is the pulsating alarm which, this writer believes, helps the rest of us to remember that a lev shalem (a full heart) not only beats for one’s self but for others as well.