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     Catskills Hatzalah is the largest all-volunteer Ambulance Service in the Catskills, providing premium quality prehospital emergency medical treatment and ambulance transport at no cost to all who need it. Catskills Hatzalah, a division of Chevra Hatzalah, was first established in 1983 to meet the growing needs of the summer residents in the Catskills. In 2003, Catskills Hatzalah expanded its operations to provide service year-round in Sullivan County. 

    How does Hatzalah work upstate How does Hatzalah work upstate with members coming from all different parts of the tri-state area? 

    During the summer months, all the Hatzalah members that come upstate have the same privileges in the Catskills area that they would have in the city. The Catskills division is the seventeenth “neighborhood” of Central Hatzalah of New York City. The Catskills have an ever growing year round community as in Bloomingburg, Monticello, Liberty, in addition to the long established communities in South Fallsburg, Kiamesha and Woodridge. The vast majority of their activity used to be in July and August, when summer residents arrive. However as the year round community is growing so is the call volume all year. A plurality (possibly majority) of these residents live in areas covered by NYC Hatzalah ten months of the year. A similar proportion of the Hatzalah EMTs are New York City members, carrying New York City radios, so it is logical for dispatch to use this frequency. However, there are dedicated Catskills dispatchers, who are familiar with the camp, bungalow colony, and hotel locations in the Catskills. The Catskills dispatchers use C-BASE as a radio call sign, while for calls in NYC the dispatchers use H-BASE as a radio call sign. Catskills Hatzalah is constantly updating their fleet and equipment to provide the best available care. 

    How many Hatzalah members are upstate over the summer? 

    During the week, approximately 150- 200. On weekends, approximately 450. 

    To which hospital does Hatzalah typically take someone? 

    The hospitals in Harris and Middletown were renamed the Garnet Health- Catskills for the Harris campus and Garnet Health for the Middletown Campus formerly known as Orange Regional. The Middletown location has the following notable specialties among others, Cardiac Cath Lab, Level 2 NICU, Level 2 Adult Trauma, and a designated Primary Stroke center. Between these hospitals and Ellenville Regional Hospital, we usually transport to the closest appropriate hospital. 

    How does one contact the Bikur Cholim if they are in one of the hospitals upstate? 

    There are Chesed rooms in all area hospitals. Bikur Cholim numbers are still the same, additionally, kosher food and Shabbos packages are available upon request. The staff and security will know where to direct you. Chesed 24/7 from New Square services all three area hospitals. Their number is: 845.354.3233. 

    Which Rabbonim does Hatzalah go through when they have questions upstate? 

    The Va’ad Harabonim of Hatzalah, which consists of many different prominent Rabbonim and Dayonim. 

    If one has an emergency, how should one prepare for Hatzalah, especially at night and on Shabbos? 

    Call 718.387.1750 or 718.230.1000. 

    Both numbers work with both 718 or 212. If you don’t have money, you can call collect or call the 800 number, which is good all year round: 1-800-387- 1750. You should have the exact address, the exact town and cross street because a lot of the towns have the same street names. Stand at the road with a flashlight on to guide Hatzalah, even on Friday night. The calmer you stay and the more guidance you give Hatzalah, the better off the patient will be. Catskills Hatzalah responds to over 2,500 calls per year, has a fleet of 17 ambulances and over 450 volunteers. 

    How many calls does Hatzalah typically receive over the summer? 

    Over 2,000. We responded to almost 1,000 calls during the off season since last summer. The call types vary. The most prevalent calls are about children falling off their bikes, injuries from playing, or allergic reactions to bee bites or insect bites. We get calls about cuts and bruises, heart attacks, and women who have high risk pregnancies. We ask people to discuss coming upstate with their doctor if they are very sick or if they have high risk pregnancies. Although the hospitals cooperate with us 100%, they may not have the facilities and the capabilities of treating someone with these kinds of ailments. We then need to transport these patients with paramedics which may not be ideal. 

    Anything new going on this year with Hatzalah in the Catskills? 

    Catskills Hatzalah is pleased to announce the launch of its Drone Team. The Drone Team brings advanced capabilities to the Catskills Hatzalah Search and Rescue Team and other special operations. 

    Thanks to an anonymous generous donor, Catskills Hatzalah has purchased  two advanced drones with infrared capabilities. These drones, with infrared capabilities, offer a tremendous advancement in the search for lost or missing persons. The team is comprised of dedicated Hatzalah volunteers who are certified by the FAA as Unmanned Aircraft System (Drone) Pilots. The team has been participating in additional extensive search and rescue and drone operations training. 

    Catskills Hatzalah has a close relationship with New York State Forest Rangers, New York State Police, and Sullivan and Ulster County Police, Fire, and EMS agencies. Catskills Hatzalah has worked closely with all agencies during special operations for many years. Catskills Hatzalah will continue working closely with all agencies and is excited to bring additional resources that will help complement the dedication, equipment, and personnel of the local agencies. 

    While the hope is that these specialty resources and teams never need to be utilized, Catskills Hatzalah remains committed to providing the highest level of service to the community. 

    Is there anything else that you would like to tell Country Vues readers? 

    Yes, again a reminder to have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Pool safety, make sure the pools are fenced properly and there are no gaps that small children can crawl under. Make sure proper adult supervision is at the pool at all times. There should be a working phone at the pool, preferably a RED emergency phone, especially C”V in the event of a Shabbos emergency at the pool. Another hazard we noticed is unlocked coffee rooms in shuls with hot water urns accessible to children. They have caused very serious burns to little children. Please take caution! Every summer, we respond to serious calls involving young drivers driving golf carts and ATVs. We are now seeing many injuries involving HoverBoards, Scooters, and Segways. This week alone, we already had several serious calls involving HoverBoards and Segways resulting in serious injuries requiring surgery. 

    Wishing all a Happy and Healthy summer.