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MDA’s New Paramedics: Father and Son

Itzik (53) and Amir Amzaleg (25), a father and son, where recently involved in a special and extraordinary occasion when they both took the stage at the graduation ceremony of MDA’s paramedics course and received their certifications. Afterwards, they went out for their first shift together on a MICU (Mobile Intensive Care Unit).

In 1981, Itzik Amzaleg, a resident of Avigdor, came to MDA as a volunteer and has since fallen in love with the organisation, holding a variety of positions over the years. Today, Amzaleg is a paramedic and acting manager of the MDA station in Kiryat Malachi.

Amir, a resident of Ashdod, began his career in the organisation at age 15 as a youth volunteer. Now, he is the acting manager of the National Dispatch and First Responders Dispatch at MDA’s National Operations Centre in Kiryat Ono.

Itzik shared his thoughts on the special occasion saying: “Working with my son has showed me how responsible and dedicated he is.’

“He sticks to his goals and loves his job. I am very proud of him and happy that we are able to work together. This is not something that every father and son gets to do, and that made our first shift very special.”

Itzik (left) and Amir (right)

On the shared responsibility and experience, Amir added: “We manage to make a complete separation during the shift during which we work professionally and regardless of being family. Despite this, the experience is great and we have a lot to talk about at Shabbat dinners.’

“We manage the situation together, come with good spirit, and desire to help others. The last word is of Dad, of course, who has been in the organisation for 40 years and has years of experience, but we work very well together.’

“When we travel together in an ambulance, the feeling is very special — not something that happens to everyone.”

In 1979, the Ministry of Health granted Magen David Adom the authority to train and certify paramedics in the State of Israel. 41 years ago, on June 25, 1980, the first course certified the first 18 paramedics in the country.

Since then, Magen David Adom has trained 3,578 paramedics, including all paramedics in the Israel Defense Forces, universities, hospitals, the National Service and members of Hesder yeshivas who work daily to save lives with professionalism and dedication.

Of all the paramedics trained in the State of Israel in the past 41 years, MDA currently has 1,162 paramedics from all populations and communities in Israel, including Jews, Arabs, Christians, Druze, new immigrants and secularists, secular, national-religious and ultra-Orthodox, including 918 employees and 244 volunteers, including 34 National and Civil Service volunteers.

One Family, 600 Units of Blood

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Giving is in their blood. In the 1970s, when Moshe (75) was a young student at Bar-Ilan University, he decided to try to donate blood in MDA for the first time in his life.

Since then, he became a regular donor and has continued to donate every month, and over the years, he has also passed this on to his children and grandchildren.

This week, his granddaughter donated blood for the first time in her life — the family’s 600th blood donation.

This morning, Sunday, marks International Blood Donation Day around the world. At the same time, with extraordinary timing, the Gelerenter family celebrates the 600th blood and blood product donation of family members who have donated blood continuously over the past several decades.

The special “hobby” began in the early 1970s, when the family’s grandfather Moshe Gelerenter was a young student in Bar Ilan.

During one of the breaks, he encountered a MDA Blood Mobile and decided to come in and make a donation — for the first time in his life.

Since then, after realizing the importance and need of the donation — he has not stopped donating and over the years has added his children and grandchildren to the donor list.

Moshe is a father of four and the grandfather of two grandchildren and one of the longest blood donors in MDA.

To date, Moses has donated 305 blood and plasma units since he began donating regularly in 1988.

This week, his young granddaughter (17.5) donated her first blood donation, which marked the 600th donation of family members.

About a year ago, Moshe had a heart attack and had to stop donating. As a result, Moshe decided to continue to help in other ways — and joined the MDA blood donor organization during which he was a volunteer donor in the pharesis unit.

From 1988 until the last years, Moshe donated regularly and hasn’t missed an opportunity to donate.

Because of the sense of mission and giving, Moshe recruited his four children, two grandchildren and other relatives to donate — which together reached a total of 600 family blood donations this week.

Regarding the sense of mission and family effort, Moshe said: “Until the age of 73, I have been donating regularly since the 1980s.’

“Unfortunately, due to a cardiac event and sugar problems, I can no longer donate. Nevertheless, I found another way to help MDA and the Corona crisis I volunteered in the organization and brought more blood donors.’

“I feel I did mine. I was able to educate the next generation and now my grandchildren are donating with their initiative and with great desire.’

“I started donating regularly when I was told about a baby who needed urgent blood donation. The story really excited me and I immediately wanted to donate.’

“This week, my young granddaughter donated her first unit of blood, which marked 600 units of blood from the Gelerenter family.’

“It is an exciting symbol of the continuation of generations and the continuity of giving. To my delight, there is no one in the family who is afraid of needles.’

“I thank G-D for leading me to this endeavor and I am grateful to have been able to help. Most important to me is that my children and the next generation, grandchildren, go my way and donate nonstop.’

“Each has donated dozens of doses of blood and they do not intend to stop. I consider the donation a supreme value and hope my story will serve as an example to others.”

Prof. Eilat Shinar, MDA Deputy Director General- Blood Services: “Moshe is one of the best and most special people we have met.’

“We, in MDA Blood Services, help 1,800 patients around the country who need blood transfusions to save their lives.’

“At the time of the Corona crisis, the importance of plasma donation became particularly significant, with the aim of helping the severely ill and preparing for the next wave.’

“Dr. Karl Landsteiner, who discovered the types of blood and thus his birthday marks the day of blood donation around the world on, would have been happy to know that there are special people like the Gelerenter family.”

London Ambulance Service Thanks Children for “Sharing” Their Mums and Dads

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The children of medics and call handlers at London Ambulance Service have been sent heartfelt letters from their parents’ bosses.

The letters have been sent to more than 1000 children thanking them for “sharing” their mum or dad with the ambulance service so they can care for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sarah Ablewhite’s son, Jack

Paramedic Sarah Ablewhite made the difficult decision to live apart from her 14-year-old son in March.

She said: “My son Jack takes a lot of medication, also his dad has some respiratory issues, so I wanted to protect them. But it has been the hardest thing.’

“We Facetime a lot but it gets very emotional. We both go through all the emotions — he has been scared about me working but also frustrated and angry he can’t see me.’

“Getting the letter just made him so proud and lifted his spirits.”

Ambulance crew Mark Reeve has been living in a hotel since the outbreak of the pandemic to protect his asthmatic six-year-old son.

Mark Reeve’s son, Christopher

Mark said: “It has been very hard to be away from him, particularly missing his sixth birthday, but I felt it was more than just my job to be on the frontline; it was something I had to do.’

“London Ambulance Service is also my family. I don’t know when I will be reunited with Christopher but it meant so much for him to get a letter.’

“He’s no longer worried, he thinks of me as a superhero, saving lives.” 

At the peak of the pandemic, London Ambulance Service was getting as many as 11,000 calls a day.

Charlene Letts, emergency ambulance crew and a mum-of-three, suggested the Service send a message out to families at a time when staff were working long and gruelling shifts.

Charlene Letts’ children, Kiera-Louize (11), Harrison (7), and Sophia (2)

Managers thought it was a great idea and immediately starting sending out the letters — which are personalised for every child.

Charlene said: “The letters are reassuring and made our children feel so special, it said they were heroes and thanked them personally for everything they are doing to help mummy and daddy.’

“This made them feel a part of the Service and that they were helping.’

“It has given me great pleasure that something positive can come out of what has been and continues to be challenging times.”

Shurelle with his son

Emergency medical technician Shurelle Elvique said: “Listening to my eldest son read out the letter gave me a sense of pride, I had tears in my eyes.’

“My youngest said it was ok, he did not mind sharing me so I could help look after sick people.’

“The letter made me feel appreciated in such a tough time, like I was really making a difference.”

Lorraine Quinlan, who works in one of the Service’s 999 control rooms, said: “My son has been so scared and has cried every time I’ve left home to go on shift.’

“Getting this letter has been a massive boost to him — and my daughter.”

Letters have also been sent to grandchildren, cousins, nieces and nephews — any child who has struggled while a loved one has been working. 

Chief Operating Officer of London Ambulance Service Khadir Meer said: “The sacrifice that our people and their children have made during the COVID-19 pandemic has been nothing short of extraordinary.’

“I am incredibly indebted to our team for everything they have done and continue to do to care for Londoners.’

“With my own son having received a letter from the Chief Executive, I know only too well the power of this kind of letter written personally to your child in helping them understand the role their parents have played in tackling this crisis.”