Chai Lifeline presented a lecture to a group of Hatzolah volunteers on Thursday evening, on the topic of dealing with family members in times of serious emergencies, R”l.
The gathering, held in the Valet Villa in Woodburne, N.Y., was a project of Project Chai led by Rabbi Dr. David Fox, Director; Zehava Farbman, MSW; and Rabbi Yaakov Klar, MSW. Project Chai is a crisis team designed to help families, communities, and schools deal with trauma.
“The summer is a unique opportunity,” said Yoel Gold, Hatzolah’s Flatbush law- enforcement liaison. “Everybody is in the Catskills. We can get together volunteers from Williamsburg, Boro Park, Queens, from all over.”
The focus of the event was to educate first responders in dealing with by-standers, usually family members, who witness a code 1 response, the most severe of emergency calls.
“It is essential that there be a few members besides those needed to deal with the patient himself,” said Klar, who delivered the presentation. “There are other people who will be traumatized by the event. Another group should be there to meet with the family and explain to them what is going on and why rescue staffs are doing what they are doing.”
Klar explained that watching Hatzolah work can be very painful. “If the family does not understand what is going on it can lead to a lot of bad feelings.”
Gold told Hamodia that Hatzolah typically does have extra staff, as code 1 calls usually have six members on the scene between medics and drivers.
“We constantly train our staff in dealing with trauma,” Gold said. “Some of the sessions are from internal presenters, but outside groups like Chai Lifeline are very helpful.”
Such preparation is particularly important when dealing with children. “A child believes that a Hatzolah member can do anything,” Klar said. “If they cannot do anything to help the patient, it is very difficult for the child to deal with.”
While Hatzolah’s role in dealing with trauma is mostly at the time of the emergency itself, often family will follow up with Hatzolah after the event. To this end, Klar gave clear guidance as to how to recognize normal and abnormal reactions to trauma.
“Sometimes we need a way of letting people know exactly what we can do and why,” Gold said. “People rely on us to do miracles.”