The newest branch of Hatzalah in the eastern portion of Bergen County is now ready to serve its community.
Sources said Bergen Hatzalah became operational at midnight on September 3rd, launching alongside Hatzalah of West Orange and Livingston in nearby Essex County.
The group seeks to serve the Englewood, Englewood Cliffs, Fort Lee, Hackensack, and Tenafly, with approximately 32 volunteers going out on calls.
In 1999 Coordinator Josh Hartman moved to Englewood but has remained an active volunteer of West Side Hatzoloh, going on calls when he is in the city.
Hartman said that people have been asking him for years why no Hatzalah was operating locally in his hometown.
“My response has always been that we have been part of the 911 system and the response time and the care have both been good, so let’s not try to fix something that isn’t broken,” Hartman said.
However, in the past three years especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for a local Hatzolah chapter has become more significant.
“There is something about a neighborhood volunteer group that people like and, over the past few years, towns like Englewood, Fort Lee and Tenafly have had a huge influx of people moving in from Hatzolah-covered areas,” Hartman revealed.
“With less volunteer service and the demand going up, my ears perked up and I realized that this was something that might actually be worth doing,” Hartman added.
Bergen Hatzalah was officially incorporated on December 31st, 2020, with the early part of 2021 devoted to working through a budget and equipment needs, with fundraising starting in earnest after Pesach.
The decentralized Hatzolah model of having volunteers responding from wherever they happen to be when a call comes in translates into faster response times than municipal models which have members going out on calls from a dedicated ambulance building.
At the moment, Bergen Hatzalah’s dispatch is currently handled by Chevra Hatzolah in Brooklyn with two units dispatched directly to the scene for every emergency, while a third member is tasked with calling the town to send an ambulance and any necessary resources.
Hartman looks forward to the day when Bergen Hatzalah will have its ambulance and notes that the corps works seamlessly with local municipalities and that all of its volunteers are trained to provide high-level emergency care, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
Bergen Hatzalah’s emergency number is 201-367-2222 or 212-230-1000.
For more information, visit them online at www.bergenhatzalah.org or email them at email@example.com.