Girls Fight Back
NEW YORK CITY HAS DOZENS OF volunteer ambulance squads that supplement the city's EMS ambulances. Mostly they confine their activities to their own neighborhoods to enhance emergency response in their area with many of their dispatches coming from direct telephone calls bypassing the 9-1-1 center. Included in this group of localized squads are several that are set up to serve the many Jewish communities found in the city.
The city's largest volunteer ambulance crew is one of these ethnic-oriented services, Hatzolah, an all-male squad with 1,300 EMT's and paramedics that responds to more than 50,000 calls annually. Their male-only policy is supported by their belief that male and female EMTs working side by side could lead to improper relationships that would violate Jewish modesty laws. The women, on the other hand, are just as uncomfortable in the situation when they have maternity incidents, especially childbirth emergencies.
So a group of Brooklyn women have kicked off a campaign to organize an all-female rescue squad that will concentrate on maternity emergencies in the district. The New York Daily News is reporting:
Borough Park lawyer Rachel Freier, 46, held the first recruitment drive Sunday for Ezras Nashim — Hebrew for "assisting women" — in her dining room. She signed up 50 members from across the borough. "If women are having an emergency, they should have the option of calling a woman," Freier said.
Rachel Freier (left) with Hadassah Strauss and Sarah Grunbaum
(NY Daily News photo)
Ezras Nashim will focus on helping mothers in labor. Their goal is to train 50 EMTs and birthing assistants by the planned September launch. "This is not a new idea," said new Ezras member Hadassah Strauss, 26. "Women have been delivering babies for thousands of years."
"I know women who are traumatized after delivering in front of so many men. That’s why I am here," said a Williamsburg woman at the recruitment drive.
Ezras Nashim plans to survive on donations and is asking new recruits to pay for their own $1,000 training. Freier is also in talks with a private ambulance company to rush patients to the hospital, so the group won’t have to go through a costly state certification for emergency medical transportation.
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