Out Of The Mailbag – To YW Editor (Hatzolah Facing Trouble in Catskills?)


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h medic vest.jpgDear Yeshivaworld, I was hoping you would post my letter since I feel that lives are on the line. I was informed about an incident which occurred earlier this week in the town of Fallsburg (Sullivan County / Catskill Mountains) – which I find to be quite troubling, and of utmost importance to the summer residents in the area who might need the services of Hatzolah.
Perhaps there are other versions of this incident, but the following is the way it was told to me: The incident began when Hatzolah was called to a serious car accident in front of Camp Bais Rochel on Pleasant Valley Road (Tuesday evening July 3rd). Hatzolah EMT’s arrived and began treating the patient. Hatzolah Paramedics arrived seconds later and began their treatment as well. It was obvious that they were EMT’s and paramedics from their fluorescent yellow vests that they are notorious to be seen wearing at Hatzolah calls – which clearly say what rank they are.
The patient was pinned (trapped) in the vehicle and the Hatzolah members had their dispatcher call 911 for the fire department to respond for an extrication.
Shortly after the fire department arrived, a local (commercial) ambulance company arrived and started making a commotion that “they are in charge, and Hatzolah has no rights to the patient”. Things spiraled down-hill from there – when the fire department told Hatzolah that they would not proceed to extricate the patient from the vehicle unless they leave the scene!
Wait there is more…….
The Fallsburg Police Department then told Hatzolah to please leave the scene at once.
Not wanting to cause a Chillul Hashem, the members left the scene.
When I was informed of this story today, I quickly did some research and found some troubling facts.
Hatzolah is a licensed NYS ambulance service – which is legally allowed to operate in Sullivan County – as is the local ambulance company. The law also states that whichever ambulance company is on the scene is in charge. In this case, the highest possible ranking person was on the scene; (paramedics).
This gives the local ambulance company no right to decide that they control the scene.
What is even more troubling is the fact the the police department had the gall to make Hatzolah stop treating the patient and leave the scene, and the fire department threaten not to extricate the patient until they leave.
Just imagine the scene: A person is trapped in a vehicle, secondary to a major car accident. He is being treated in a professional manner by NYS certified paramedics. They are waiting for the fire department to cut the car apart to be able to immobilize him and transport him to the hospital. A medevac is placed on standby. The next thing you know the paramedics are stopped from treating their patient!
This is insanity!
I am a resident in the town of Fallsburg (who pays taxes all year). I also voted for Mr. Steven Levine as the town supervisor – who promised us the world. I would like YW to please post his phone numbers at the Fallsburg Township building so that people can call and demand an explanation.
People should call the Fallsburg PD as well to voice their outrage.
Why are we being silent, when the next live might be YOURS?!
I have also heard that Hatzolah is filing a huge complaint with the state against the ambulance company in question, as well as the Fallsburg PD.
Sincerely, a concerned individual.
Town Supervisor: Steven J. Levine
Email Address: [email protected]
Mailing Address : P.O. Box 830, South Fallsburg, N. Y. 12779 Phone Number : (845) 434-8812 Fax Number : (845) 434-8835

Editors Note: Yeshivaworld has made numerous attempts to contact a representative of Catskills Hatzolah to verify this individuals story – and was unsuccessful. .

Photo above is NOT a picture of the above incident, rather an image of the yellow Hatzolah vests which the above writer is referring to.


  1. Might I respectfully suggest that the details be confirmed before people start calling?

    Incidentally, my source at Monsey Hatzoloh said he hasn’t heard the details yet, but SOMETHING happened.

  2. Clearly this is a very emotional and sensitive story so I will attempt to choose my words carefully.

    I do not believe the story as is being told. Hatzolah has been in the Catskills for as long as most of us have been frequenting the area and there has never been such a situation. Unfortunately, I have been at the scene of several motor vehicle accidents and did not notice animosity or friction between Hatzolah and the locals.

    I suspect that there are some facts that are not being divulged for public consumption that may have resulted in this supposed unfortunate lack of cooperation. Hatzolah has never in the past experienced this type of animosity with the local authorities of this level.

  3. Thank you Yeshiva World for posting this important message! A true public service. Time to get off the laurels and call these lackeys.

  4. I have just confirmed the story with a Hatzolah Coordinator.

    This is totall unacceptable behavior.

    I respect the members for leaving the scene insted of not making a chillil hashem.

  5. i have just confirmed the incident with higher-ups in hatzoloh.

    these guys will be put in their places once and for all.

    the NERVE of them!

  6. As my friend Rush Limbaug says, “Follow the money trail and you will get your answers.”

    The issue here is that the locals lose income when Hatzola (spell it however you want depending on which branch is involved) takes a call. When one calls a local ambulance the ambulance company or the city in this case gets money from the patient or his insurance company for the treatment and transport.

    When a volunteer company like Hatzola takes a patient EVEN IF THEY WERE THERE FIRST, the city loses money which could be why they were not happy.

    That being said, it is my understanding and I could be wrong, that once an EMT is on the scene he is the one responsible until HE decides to pass responsibility to someone else.

    The local yokels there were probably trying to prove a point of being unhappy with the summer “invasion” that in the long run will work against them.


  7. I was just forwarded this link from a friend of mine.

    I am a member of a local squad in Sullivan County.
    Our township has an excellent relationship with Hazolah for many years.

    Our town is currently in a large dispute with a local commercial squad as well.

    They feel that they control the entire county.

    Bottom line: It’s all about $$$$$$

  8. Dear Mr. Levine,

    As the supervisor of my town located in the South Shore, I usually would never write an e mail to a fellow colleague. Unfortunately, I have received many many phone calls regarding an incident that happened in your town this past week. It was the incident re a motor vehicle accident on Pleasant Valley Rd.

    I have heard from to many reliable sources that there was ZERO cohesiveness between your PD and FD with Hatzolah volunteer Ambulance. I was shocked and embaressed to here such things like this take place in New York.

    I’m sure you know the value of another humans life and there is no room for different agencies ego’s to play a roll here. Just remember, this Patient who has harmed because of your agencies refusal to work together with volunteers on the scene is a CHILD to someone. Take one minute now to your self and think…if god forbid that was your own child trapped and suffering in a car. How would you like him to be treated. As a moral person, I’m sure you would INSIST that the highest level of training treat your child.

    This behavior is unacceptable, everyone has to work together. You have the ability……make it happen,make changes,its never too late.
    Thank You,


  9. Regardless of whether the story is true, there is however a legal issue which you misrepresent.
    According to NY STATE law, a Municipal agency has more rights than a Volunteer Agency. Legally speaking, the local company, under contract with the municipality has the right to ask a volunteer agency to leave, regardless of the fact that they may be Paramedics.
    This is unfortunately STATE law.
    In NYC, the local regional EMS council, REMSCO, has issued a policy that is a little different than the state law, but as far as the law goes, the locals were legally correct.

  10. The question is, how well was hatzolah treating the patients. A MVA is a lot different than treating cardiac and medical assist cases which are the bulk of hatzolahs calls. If someone needs to be backboarded I will take the out of town ambulance crew any day over hatzolah. The chance of someting going wrong is very high and I would rather have someone who has done it practically dozens if not hundreds of times over a hotzhalah member who can probably count on one hand the amount of times they have done it.
    I few questions for haztolah, (1) was the car properly cribbed? (2) were the patients properly being treated, i.e. neck braces. (3) Were the cars verified to be safe before treatment began.
    Having witnessed hatzolah treating a MVA in flatbush once, I would be vary wary of letting them treat me at a MVA. The cars were not cribbed and while it was nice that they had someone in the car holding the head due to possible spinal injury, it was beyond me why the guy was in the front seat in front of the person instead of proper procedure which is behind the person. When I pointed this out, I was looked at in bewilderment and told to get out of the scene. I think there is a lot more to this story than what is being told. And the question is will hatzolah tell truth on what actually happened including if and what they may have done wrong. For the record I used to be a fire fighter and EMT in Pennsylvania before moving to Flatbush. And MVA incidents require very technicalknowledge on how to treat and handle a patient correctly. Does hatzolah have this expertise and do they train enough for it?

  11. To the person who wrote the following: “Regardless of whether the story is true, there is however a legal issue which you misrepresent. According to NY STATE law, a Municipal agency has more rights than a Volunteer Agency. Legally speaking, the local company, under contract with the municipality has the right to ask a volunteer agency to leave, regardless of the fact that they may be Paramedics.”

    FYI: You are 100% wrong.
    Actually 100,000,000,000,000% wrong.

    Please get your facts straight before stating something incorrect.

  12. To all my fellow commentators.

    Please be careful what you post here, as many many local and state officials are reading what is written. Use your brains, not your fingers.

    To the moderator. Please do the same.

    No chillul hashem is needed. The story was publicized.

    Now let them apologize and make sure it never happens again.

  13. ny100k – You are flat out wrong.

    In NYS, the first responder onteh scene has priorty to teh patient unless a higher ranking/trained unit arrives (EMT vs. Medic).

    It makes no differnce if one is a volunteer, paid or contracted by the local municipality.

  14. Why should HATZOLOH need a lawyer?? They did nothing wrong. If anything the FiRE Department is responsible for prioritizing with their ‘Authority’ rather then the well being of the patient!

  15. I just spoke to one of the Hatzolah members on that call, who gave me the following info:

    1. The story is even worse: The guy (I will not name him here) who runs the commercial ambulance company in question, showed up in his PRIVATE CAR, and demanded Hatz. to leave, “because it is my patient”. (They seem to believe in the myth that Hatz. Would not treat a non Jew..)

    2. That person did not have ANY equipment in his car. No backboard, oxygen, nothing! Hatz. The patient was not loaded onto the Hatz. Ambulance simply because she was pinned into her vehicle.

    3. He reasoning was: “I am Sullivan County EMS, so I run the show”. You guys are just armatures.

    4. When FD and PD showed up they both listened to him, although there was no Mobile medic bus yet on the scene. (Imagine Hatz telling FDNY: Don’t treat this patient. A Hatz. Bus is being dispatched..)

    5. AFTER the call the Hatz. Medics and coordinators on the scene pulled that supervisor to the side, and confronted him that what he did was blatantly against any NYS law. His response was: You are correct, but when “you guys” are here it is slow for us, and we simply need the funding, so we were going to transport. End of story!

    This is an unbiased version, confirmed with several who were on the scene, and were at a loss on how to handle this, as Hatz. Had a good working relation with all these parties in the past, and if MM would have had their bus on scene and insisted, they would have allowed them to transport if they asked for it. But this was just completely out of whack!

    Moderators Note: Names removed from comment.

  16. I feel your article about the confrontation with Hatzolah and the fire co. I would like to clarify the facts.  I personally was the one who cut the patient out of the wreckage and at no time was extrication delayed because of the altercation occuring between PD. and hatzolah.  I feel that your article should get all the facts straight before something like this is viewed by the public. The only thing that compromised patient care was the inability for the Fallsburg Extrication Team to gain access to the vehicle through the plethera of Hatzolah Members blocking access.  We run many calls with Hatzolah during the summer months, and these problems occur each year, because of the ridiculous amount of their members who respond.  All they do is tye up traffic for our equiptment to get to the scene.

  17. To A Lawyer Who Will Defend Hatzolah If Needed:

    Why don’t you do some research, and you will indeed discover the law. I am sure you are an expert on the Public Health Law, Article 30.

  18. To ny100k:

    You wrote “Why don’t you do some research, and you will indeed discover the law. I am sure you are an expert on the Public Health Law, Article 30.”

    I know the law. That’s why I am a lawyer.

    I sure hope the party in question knows the law – since (from what I hear) he will be hearing from the State shortly.

    Oh, and the attorneys who represent Hatzolah know the law too. And they know it well.

  19. From NYS Public Health Law:
    It is recognized that patient care
    may be provided in a variety of hazardous conditions and that overall scene
    command is the responsibility of locally designated officials (Police, Fire, Health,
    Municipal, etc.).

  20. The fireman has a point. I even see in Boro Park and Flatbush that too many members respond to a call and often create a scene that is detrimental to the patient’s privacy and to traffic, etc. There should be a limit imposed as to the number of responders allowed per call.

    Also, to the one who asked “why would Hatzolah need a lawyer?” It’s not about “needing” a lawyer only when one is accused. Lawyers are useful in litigating for certain rights and to make their client’s position clear.

  21. I will agree with the Fallsburg FD guy who claims to have cut that pt. on one point:

    Each summer you have Hatz. members from all over converging onto the Catskills. Whenever there is any major MVA, you will have a easily a 25 members on the scene. The reason is simply a lack (or inability) of any local Hatz coordination to effectively control a chaotic and emotional scene.

    (why should the KY or Monsey, Canada, or SI unit listen to a W coordinator who said five times that no additional should show up?)

    This has been proven at the fatal scene two years ago, motzei T”B near bobov Camp in S Fallsburg, when PD literally had to set up a road block for additional members AND BUFFS posing as members, as it was getting out of control.

    That was with F60 still in control. I can imagine today it is much worse.

  22. Hatzolah in the country is under the Hudson Valley REMSCO that has different protocols than the NY REMSCO, and I encourage you to become familiar with them before you spew your professed genius.

  23. It is obvious that tempers were flaring when alot of these comments were written. Rightfully so. First off, I need to remind everyone who has comment here, that there are usually three sides to every story, yours, mine, and the truth (which is a combination of both). The comment that the FD was delaying extrication because they wanted Hatzolah to leave, is a falocy. The fact is that there were entirely too many people on the scene, and they were asked to step back & let the FD do their jobs. When the members did not comply with the FD, then the police were asked to handle it. As far as the confrontation with the local EMS provider & the comments that it was all about money, there are some points to consider:

    1. Paramedic flycars are used in the local EMS system & many times arrive on the scene PRIOR to the “bus” arriving.

    2. If there is extrication in progress, for safety reasons, the scene CAN NOT and SHOULD NOT be overcrowded with personnel, As they may become victims themselves.

    3. New York State is a home rule state, and muncipalities can sign contract for local ambulance and Paramedic coverage, and they superceed jurisdictional boundaries.

    Finally, everyone involved now knows about this, and here’s hoping that a few comments don’t escalate things for the summer season, none of us can afford to jeopardize innocent people because we have issues with eachother! Get over them & do the right thing!

  24. First of all – Please note this link was given to numerous agencies including the South Fallsburg PD, FD and Town Supervisor Personnel therefore please think before you just write. The poster that stated “Having witnessed hatzolah treating a MVA in flatbush once, ….it was beyond me why the guy was in the front seat in front of the person instead of proper procedure which is behind the person….ask any EMT (Hatzolah, City Agency, Private Ambulance, etc.) Everyone knows the golden rule of how to stabilize a PT’s head. Before you commented I assume that you looked in the back seats to make sure there was room for a person to sit and there was no broken glass, broken equipment, etc….
    In any event, lets try and keep this track straight. There was an MVA and Hatzolah ALS & BLS was on the scene PRIOR to another agencies “First Response” ALS Vehicle. Keep in mind the “First Response ALS Unit” was advising that his Ambulance and ALS equipment had an approx. 10 min ETA to the scene and he was transporting the PT . The PT was trapped in the vehicle during this time and HVAC BLS was in the vehicle maintaining PT stabilization during the extrication process. Upon having clear access to the patient (after the door was cut off) the other agencies Ambulance was still NOT on the scene. However the local FD did not allow HVAC to evaluate the patient as a FD Lieutenant said “——– is transporting the patient not you so step back”.

    “Concerned Firefighter” – If you were actually there then you can recall how your 2 engines had a clear path in the Camp Driveway and were the 2 closest vehicles to the accident site, that’s why all responding units were advised to access the site from within camp grounds. There were 2 ALS Vehicles, 2 BLS Vehicles and 1 Ambulance on the scene however there were 4 Fallsburg PD vehicles and 6 vehicles with blue lights. You may be confusing the 2 unmarked Fallsburg PD vehicles for HVAC vehicles….

  25. Baloneys: It is ABC of ANY state or national curriculum, which is teached to ANY USA EMT, that the highest level of medical training on the scene is in charge, until someone from a higher authority takes him over. The only one who can overrule this is a police officer. (who better have a good reasoning why he did it.)

    The person in question was just a commander without an ambulance or even an authorized first response vehicle, and no law would have given his permission to send away a crew of paramedics and a bus.

    Moderators Note: Name removed from comment.

  26. PS: The person in question should have learned his lesson after he was sued for 20 million bucks, when he had a Hatz. CC unit restrained by FD (when he was commissioner) after a drowning in Monticello. He claimed since that member was only a CC (not a full medic) he cannot practice ALS.

    The child died. It turned out that member and Hatz. Had all the necessary paperwork to practice ALS. (It was the fist year of Hatz. Operating ALS in the C. Prior to that THERE WAS NO ALS in all of Sullivan County! The commercial ambulance in question simply followed Hatz. As did STAT Flight, after that summer when F32 leased a helicopter and kept it behind his bungalow. The locals were infuriated there was an ALS provider in town. If that provider was only Hatz, they did whatever they could trying to block it.)

    If I remember correctly, the locals were then able to set up ALS of their own, after failing in the past, only thanks to the Hatz. Licensing and special law which was set up in Albany.

    Moderators Note: Names removed from comment.

  27. while its nice to chew over what did or didnt happen, I think now we should be going forward. Why not implement a ‘black box’ (as in airplanes) type device, that secretly records or tapes scenes at accidents – this would both help improve treatment at next response to similar calls and would make sure all respondents get along well – this way we meet the 2 primary objectives of Hatzolah – to help patients at the highest level and to be Mikadesh Shem Shomayim in the process

  28. “hakesef yaana es hakol”….”knie lecha chaver”
    lets just compensate mobile medics for lost business during the summer .
    raise your pledge in the upcoming shabbos hatzolah appeal!
    btw-what is the status of the victim?

  29. To “The Facts”

    Yes, I had a clear view and there was nothing in the backseat. btw, the veihcle wasn’t cribbed either. Like I said before, if there is chas v’shalom a coronary or related incident, then call hatzalah, but for an MVA call 911 also and let them take charge. They have the practical experience of dealing with such calls tenfold times than hatzolah. It’s not a knock on hatzahlah, it’s a specialty they are more adebt at. If your kid needs stiches, do you want a surgeon or a plastic surgeon.

  30. coney island avenue and avenue L. The emt was standing with one foot in the vehicle and one foot out while leaning in to provide stabilization.

  31. After viewing all the responses about our call, there is one thing that should be heard, Our extrication team worked quickly,safely and as professional as we are, if anyone that was on the scene thinks differently then maybe they should show us how it is done. The door was removed within minutes, and the victim was on her way to the hospital. To the medic who was in the car with the victim, I personally covered him with our blanket and had him remain with the victim until I was done cutting, at that time My job was done and would like everyone to know that he was not told to vacate his spot. Besides all the nonsense surfacing we gave the pt 100% professionalism.

  32. To concerned fireman:

    I am a TAX PAYING resident in the town of Fallsburg. I am just going to state a fact – just for the sake of stating it.

    Fallsburg FD stands in the streets on those busy busy busy Sunday afternoons in the months of July and August and collects money for the fire department. (To all those that do not know its called “Tag Day”.) Why is it that you do NOT do this in December? You know why. I’ll just make it clear to you. The local’s – AINT GIVING YOU GUYS A DIME.

    WE ARE.




    I would like you to respond to the following question. Since you were at this scene, and you guys claim that what you did was all sweet and rosey, how about the person in question?

    Do you think he did anything wrong?

    Please respond.

  33. To Comment #11 (Rescue37)

    “(1) was the car properly cribbed? (2) were the patients properly being treated, i.e. neck braces. (3) Were the cars verified to be safe before treatment began.”

    As an EMT who has participated in numerous MVA’s and extrications…
    “(1) was the car properly cribbed?” firstly, FD was doing the extrication so THEY should be cribbin not Hatzolah. You dont crib to backboard a patient, you crib to extricate unless theres a reason to assume that the car will move (like when your spreading…ie. performing extrication). Theres no reason to crib when your backboarding anymore then when you get in or out of your car.

    “(2) were the patients properly being treated, i.e. neck braces.” I wasn’t there, but I’ve yet to see a backboarded patient without SOME kind of neck support (refer to PHTLS curriculum for guidance). Maybe you retired prior to PHTLS becoming popular, but those are the operating guidlines of TODAY, so look closer.

    (3) Were the cars verified to be safe before treatment began.” This has more bearing on the responders than it does the patient whos still in the car either way. Refer to #1.

    ” MVA is a lot different than treating cardiac and medical assist cases which are the bulk of hatzolahs calls.” True its different, but what makes you think that they have any less MVA’s than the locals???

    “The chance of someting going wrong is very high” Well…not really especially if they are not doing the extrication.

    “I will take the out of town ambulance crew any day over hatzolah. ” I’ve worked with some of the most proffesional squads on this side of the Atlantic, and I hate to say it but your out of your mind. I suspect you’ve never really seen Hatzolah in action, and how MUCH HARDER they would work a patient. They’ve got countless stories to prove how they’d worked patients into the hospital despite the locals PRONOUNCING the pt. repeatedly, and these “dead” patients are still LIVING to tell the tale.

    My friend, perhaps “Hatzola of PA” needs some improvement, but welcome to our neck of the woods, where devotion rules!

  34. To concerned fireman:

    From your posts, I smell a different agenda then your screen name suggests. If not for the summer residents, who pay taxes for 12 months and only get serviced for 2-3 months, your paycheck would be a lot slimmer. Please tell all of your friends @ the FD / EMS and PD to be grateful to the summer residents and to be grateful to Hatzolah for helping you guys handle all the extra emergency calls that statistically rise when more people converge on the town.

    If not for Hatzolah, taking many of those calls of your hands, you guys would never make it through the summer! Besides your taxes would keep going up to cover those extra costs!

    The same is true with the summer residents, they don’t stress your departments for 9-10 months out of the year (but pay for it anyway), they don’t attend your schools etc – so they basicly pay a huge portion of YOUR tax dollars – when you get the most out of it!!!

  35. Himmelstein,
    the idea you propose is not original. Actually, police vehicles are equipped with video that runs automatically at traffic stops for 10 minutes. No audio though. Perhaps there is a law against this type of thing? Anyway, you can bet its already been thought of and its probably not so easy to implement.

  36. To Fallburg taxpayer,

    I don’t believe it, and you have know proof to back up this idiotic assertion. I don’t believe people are dropping of $20 bills either. How much did you give last year? Also, it would be to cold in December to stand out and collect. The locals are the ones that give up of their time to train and run fire calls. To run fire calls there is lot larger of a commitment needed than to run I’ve fallen and can’t get up taxi service. The hours needed to become ana true fire fighter and get certifications is a lot more than the 120 hours (or is it 150 now) needed for an EMT. That is besides the fact that one actually has to stay in shape to be a fire fighter. an air cannister with 30 minutes of air is gone in 10 minutes if you are out of shape. So let’s stop blaiming them for something which is probably not their fault. Also, if the fire command does not want Haztolah on the scene, they probable have good reason. As I have stated before, Hatzolah guys are probably not trained properly for such calls. How many times have you had to go hunting for a head in the bushes. (happened to me twice) MVA’s are not pretty and they take a lot of training to do right.

  37. How much did I pay?

    Are you kidding?

    I paid THOUSANDS in taxes all year long.


    And on Tag Day I always drop a 10 or 20 in the bucket.

    Lets see how long there will be a Fallsburg left if we stopped paying taxes. There is no reson for us to be hated and treated like garbage.

  38. And on that immature note…..the comments are CLOSED on this thread.

    Let’s all hope that this situation will be resolved in the near future.

    We will wait for an official statement from a Town of Fallsburg Official, or Hatzolah.

Comments are closed.