Hatzolah is derived from the Hebrew word, “lehatsil”, meaning to save. The original Hatzolah was a first responder agency formed by Orthodox New York Jews in 1973 to provide a service to the local community. They were trained in basic first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and were equipped with oxygen. Other Hatzolah groups have been established all over the United States and in other countries including Israel, the United Kingdom, Canada, Mexico, South Africa and Australia.
Hatzolah Melbourne was established in 1994 initially to build a bridge between an ageing generation of Holocaust survivors afraid of calling for medical assistance due to the fear of external agencies wearing uniforms.
In addition, there was recognition of the care needs of Melbourne’s ageing Jewish population and their specific cultural, religious and emotional needs. In addition, there was concern that a large number of elderly people in the Jewish community did not have a good grasp of the English language, and were therefore not able to call for help in a medical emergency.