In a move that will no doubt save many lives, the Illinois state legislature passed a bill that will give Chicago’s Hatzolah the same legal dispensations at other recognized ambulance services.
“This bill was all about saving lives,” said Lou Lang, a member of the Illinois legislature and co-sponsor of the bill. “Rarely do we get a chance to pass a law that does so much to create a healthier community.”
The measure, which passed both houses unanimously and was signed by the governor last week, will allow Hatzolah vehicles to use emergency lights and sirens, as well as to drive through red lights on the way to emergency calls.
There was, initially, opposition from different areas of the state, fearing that the bill would give vehicles too much license and might endanger safety, especially in smaller towns.
So the measure was modified to apply only in cities with more than a million residents, which will make it applicable only in Chicago.
“I can’t tell you how many lives they’ve saved,” State Senator Ira Silverstein, the bill’s chief sponsor, told Hamodia. “This gives them more tools to get to individuals as swiftly as possible.”
Hatzolah has been operating in Chicago since 2011 and has responded to an estimated 1,000 calls in the last year alone. Simcha Frank, COO, told Hamodia, “Being available 24/7 without interruption isn’t an easy task. The tremendous collaboration on the part of those people involved with passing this bill gives a great recognition to the volunteers for their efforts to save lives. Medical Responders, Dispatchers, Service Members, as well as Rabbinic and Administrative Boards feel the support of the community in this bill and it is appreciated.”