On Monday, June 14, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was joined by members of the Florida Legislature and leaders in the Jewish community at The Shul of Bal Harbour in Surfside to sign a bill which ensures that volunteer ambulance services, including Hatzalah of South Florida, a free emergency transport service, can operate.
Rabbi Moshe Matz, executive director of Agudath Israel of Florida, joined Governor Ron DeSantis for a historic dual signing event. At the event – also attended by Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nunez, State Representatives Mike Caruso and Randy Fine, and State Senator Jason Pizzo – Governor DeSantis signed HB 804, which enables Hatzalah to operate with lights and sirens.
Addressing the group, Governor DeSantis reiterated his commitment to the safety of the Jewish community and to fight against antisemitism.
“Florida continues to lead the nation, whether in its partnerships with Israel, action against antisemitism, school choice, and now this Hatzalah bill. We are extremely grateful to Governor DeSantis, Senator Pizzo, and all those who continue to support the Jewish community in Florida,” concluded Rabbi Moshe Matz.
“Hatzalah serves Jewish communities with religious sensitivities,” said Representative Mike Caruso. “Many of their community members follow strict Jewish guidelines, only speak Yiddish or Hebrew, and some are Holocaust survivors whose religious beliefs mean that their preference is to be transported and treated by a member of their own community; someone they know. This bill simply allows orthodox Jewish paramedics and EMT’s to serve and treat orthodox Jewish members of their own community under the Jewish laws of life.”
“Hatzalah provides invaluable emergency service to our community, so I’m delighted that Governor DeSantis has taken the time to sign this bill here with the organization,” said Senator Jason Pizzo.
In response to the signing, Hatzalah of South Florida tweeted, “Thank you Governor Ron DeSantis for signing the bill that authorizes faith-based organizations like Hatzalah of South Florida to provide ambulance services to our community. Together we save lives!”
“Through his words and actions Governor DeSantis continues to show his commitment to the Jewish community in Florida,” said Baruch Sandhaus, member of the board of Hatzalah of South Florida.
Chaskel Bennett, a community askan involved in advocating for the passage of the bill who was on hand as the governor signed the bill, said, “It’s an honor to personally thank Governor Ron DeSantis for signing HB805 today at The Shul. The Jewish community of South Florida is extremely grateful for this historic legislation allowing Hatzalah of South Florida to save more lives. As the Talmud states, ‘He who saves one life, is as if he saved the entire world.’”
This bill ensures faith-based volunteer first responder services, like Hatzalah, can operate and use emergency lights and sirens when responding, if the service has operated in Florida for at least 10 years and meets numerous other rigorous conditions.