Druze Israelis at the first EMT class. (United Hatzalah) (United Hatzalah)
United Hatzalah

United Hatzalah is training Druze volunteers in the Golan to improve their emergency response times and capabilities in order to maximize their ability to save lives. 

By: United with Israel Staff
With files from United Hatzalah

In the same week that Israel saw a serious increase in the threat looming across the Golan Heights from Syria, members of the Druze villages in the area got together to help make a difference in their own communities and improve their life-saving skills.

Volunteers from the Druze towns in the northern Golan, including Majdal Shams, Ein Kenya, Masada, and Buq’ata, began an EMT training course that will train and qualify local volunteers to provide an emergency medical response to injured and sick people in their communities while they wait for ambulances to arrive.

The courses are taking place in Buq’ata and are being run by United Hatzalah, one of Israel’s leading emergency medical services.

Tlal Gotani, director of the Shaba ambulance company that provides service to the northern Druze communities, organized the course together with Nachi Klein, chapter head of United Hatzalah in the Galilee and Golan.

“We sorely need extra teams of EMS volunteers inside the communities for a variety of reasons,” said Gotani. “We are one of the most highly trafficked areas in terms of tourism and one of the most beautiful places in the country. Hundreds of thousands of tourists come to the northern Golan every year and often need medical assistance. Training more volunteers here means providing a faster emergency response for them.”

He expressed pleasure in the fact that United Hatzalah “is taking a leadership role in helping our communities.”

Gotani added that there is an extra element of concern during times of conflict. “Obviously during times of peace, we have the local residents who need help as well as the tourists. But during times of conflict, the situation becomes more tense. We need to have responders in each and every town, not just where the ambulances are situated.”

A Dream of Advanced Life Support

“My dream for the near future is to open up a paramedics course with United Hatzalah so that we can train a group of paramedics who can provide advanced life support in the area as it is much needed,” he said.

Asked if the escalating conflict encouraged people to sign up for the training, Gotani responded by saying that “the people in the Druze communities have wanted to do this for a long time. We finally approached United Hatzalah and they agreed to do the course and train a new group of volunteers. We had so many applicants that I could have easily opened two or three courses simultaneously. That is how much people here want to help. The desire has been around since before the most recent round of conflict. Obviously, that helps add fuel to the fire but it wasn’t what is causing people to want to train. They simply want to help others.”

Gotani himself has been in the field of emergency first response for more than 20 years.

“The new recruits have seen the activity of United Hatzalah and saw the work that the organization was doing and wanted to bring that model to the Druze communities in the northern Golan. They, like myself, want to see the area have as much coverage as they have in other locations throughout Israel. We want to close the gap in coverage for our communities and help increase the network of lifesaving volunteers of United Hatzalah who provide coverage from the top of the Hermon to Eilat. Once the new trainees graduate, we will have that many more people who can provide assistance from the top of the Hermon all the way down to the bottom of the Golan,” Gotani explained.