United Hatzalah launches international task force training amid rising antisemitism 

One track was for lay leaders, and the other was designed to assist mental-health professionals on how to utilize their skills in a fast-paced and chaotic emergency field scenario.

Psychotrauma and crisis response unit training during an simulated drill in Israel run by United Hatzalah. Credit: United Hatzalah.
Psychotrauma and crisis response unit training during an simulated drill in Israel run by United Hatzalah. Credit: United Hatzalah.

In light of the uptick in antisemitic incidents plaguing college campuses, on city streets and in Jewish communities worldwide in the wake of the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks by Hamas in Israel, United Hatzalah has initiated several training programs to assist people impacted by these events.

The first such training course, which was given via an online forum, focused on giving tools to community leaders and trained therapists on how to implement treatment in the field during emergencies and how to treat members of their own community for psychological trauma due to the existing threats now facing them.

The course, which kicked off last week, was led by veteran members of United Hatzalah’s Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit (PCRU).

Clinical psychologist Dr. Sharon Slater and psychologist Einat Kauffman, both of whom have vast experience in treating acute emotional stress and stabilizing patients in large-scale emergencies and disaster zones, ran the sessions. One track was for lay leaders; the other was designed to assist mental-health professionals and retrain them on how to utilize their skills in a fast-paced and chaotic emergency field scenario.

Dov Maisel, vice president of operations for United Hatzalah, spoke about the reasoning behind these training courses: “The proliferation of hate crimes and antisemitism around the world is severely impacting the global Jewish community. With the growing fear that our college students, synagogue members and neighbors are feeling, we recognized the urgent need for more responders who can provide immediate care for those suffering from emotional stress or trauma.”

Kaufman, who also serves as one of the directors of the PCRU, said: “Our initial goal was to offer a short and impactful course for professionals and give them some of basic the tools they need to adapt their work to field conditions. At the same time, we recognized the need to train community leaders, who do not possess formal therapeutic training, in order that they would be able to help in their own communities as well in cases of emergency or severe psychological traumas. Recognizing that there are, relatively speaking, very few professionals in the field of providing immediate psychological and emotional intervention, we developed this course to disseminate as much information as quickly as possible to people who would be called upon to provide a response in their communities.”

According to organizers, the courses, which were well-received so far, will continue for the next few weeks. Nearly 100 people attended the first two sessions, and another 200 have registered for the upcoming sessions next week, with more expected to sign up in the days ahead.

For more information about the course or to register for one of the upcoming sessions, email: uhtaskforce@israelrescue.org.

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United Hatzalah of Israel is the largest independent, nonprofit, fully volunteer Emergency Medical Service organization that provides the fastest emergency medical first response throughout Israel for free. Its service is available to all people regardless of race, religion or national origin. United Hatzalah has more than 5,000 volunteers across the country, available around the clock—24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. With the help of GPS technology and iconic ambucycles, its network of volunteers has an average response time of less than three minutes. In some metropolitan areas, the average response time is 90 seconds. Its mission is to arrive at the scene of medical emergencies as soon as possible and provide the patient with professional and appropriate medical aid until an ambulance arrives, resulting in more lives saved. See more at: https://israelrescue.org/.
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