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WILLIAMSBURG: NYC Public Advocate Honors Hatzalah Member for Treating Passenger on Florida Flight [VIDEOS & PHOTOS]

A Hatzolah member who made international headlines last month for providing emergency medical care to a fellow passenger on a Florida-bound flight found himself the center of attention once again, this time being recognized for his efforts by New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.

As previously reported on The Yeshiva World, Naftoli Schischa was on a JetBlue flight from New York to Fort Lauderdale when a passenger fainted in the aisle.  A member of Williamsburg, Rockland and South Florida Hatzalah, Schischa used his training to stabilize the woman, his actions averting the need for an emergency landing.  The story broke on Fox News and spread rapidly, thrusting the reluctant Schischa into the media spotlight.

Inspired by Schischa’s midair volunteerism, Williams decided to honor him with an official commendation from the City of New York at Hatzolah of Williamsburg’s Park Avenue headquarters on February 22nd. Williams noted that Schischa’s lifesaving actions are representative of Hatzalah’s ongoing commitment to helping those in need of emergency medical treatment.

“When people like yourself stand up, we’re all a little bit safer and stronger and in greater solidarity,” said Williams, adding, “Know that you have the gratitude of New York City.”

Williams’ commendation came one week after Schischa was one of three members of Rockland Hatzoloh who were presented with the Rockland County Legislature’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award.  Also recognized for providing medical assistance in midair was Heshy Leifer, who treated a passenger on a flight from Morocco to New York in early February, while Moshe Schuster and two others were hailed for rescuing a nine year old boy who tumbled through the ice covering Monsey’s Lake Suzanne and was struggling in the frigid waters on February 6th.

Chevra Hatzalah CEO Rabbi Yehiel Kalish and United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg and North Brooklyn president and executive director Rabbi David Niederman both took advantage of the opportunity to speak with Williams about issues affecting New York City’s Jewish communities.  Among the items discussed were proposed congestion pricing’s significant impact on bikur cholim volunteers who travel frequently to Manhattan hospitals, as well as having New York City approve legislation that has already been signed into law elsewhere in the state that would offer tax credits to volunteer first responders.

While news sites have been buzzing with multiple stories of Hatzalah members providing inflight medical assistance over the past several weeks, Rabbi Kalish noted that with nearly 3,000 Hatzalah members living in the New York and New Jersey area, incidents of this nature happen frequently.

“I had a coordinator from one of our larger neighborhoods tell me that he saved passengers three times over the past year,” said Rabbi Kalish.  “There is a good chance that if you are flying New York to Florida, or New York to Tel Aviv, there is going to be a Hatzalah member on your flight.”

Ironically, just hours after Williams presented Schischa with both a citation and his gratitude, a Hatzalah member from Queens was pressed into service in midair when a woman traveling Tel Aviv to New York went into labor as her flight cruised over Iceland.

“This is just who we are,” said Rabbi Kalish.  “The fact that we have so many members in so many places means that when a call comes in, we can have members responding within seconds.  Most of all, even though we have members from every segment of the community, there is so much achdus in Hatzalah. When it comes to a patient, we are all one.”

8 Responses

  1. And then there is the article ….”National “Day of Hate” Against Jews Planned for Shabbos Around Country ” . Not a word from any politicians , Governor , Senators , President !!!!

  2. Jumaane Williams is an mensch and it is too bad that he is perceived negatively by the frum and on Israel he is close to Satmar shita

  3. Mi Ke’Amcha Yisroel?

    EMTs, physicians, etc step in to give medical aid to people on planes on a weekly, if not daily basis.

    Mi Ke’Amcha Yisroel, that the organization they belong to would milk the incident for publicity and awards ceremonies, as if it was something outside of the ordinary?

  4. @Shlomo 2 – Do you have any proof that it was Hatzalah who sought the publicity and not Mr. Williams and the office of Mayor Adams?

  5. shlomo 2, Hatzalah is a community oriented organization that follows daas Torah to the tee. Does hatzalah have new leadership?

  6. Shauli: Silly me, for thinking that Hatzola Williamsburg, and not the Mayor’s office, arranged for the massive photo and video spread on yeshiva world news.

    Silly me for thinking that it was Williamsburg Hatzola’s idea to pose with politicians, to demonstrate their power and influence, rather than the mayor’s office that spontaneously came up with the idea of posing with community gevirim and Hatzola.

  7. Hatzolah Yakov Yosef Berger did the same and much more on a flight from Israel. He avoided an emergency landing too and held the patient’s luggage in his home while they were rushed to Hospital. Gave up with mesirus nefesh from his comfort too! And a lot more than that!. Another one… I wish I knew his name on a flight from morroco.

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