(Courtesy United Hatzalah)

United Hatzalah, a large, non-profit volunteer EMS organization, created a new app for quick navigation and EMS alerts on Haifa beaches.

Tackling what has been a longstanding problem of locating and identifying patients in need of medical assistance on beaches along the coast of Israel, United Hatzalah Carmel Chapter has developed a new app that can alert EMS teams to medical emergencies. The app can identify the exact locations of emergencies along the beaches of Israel’s third most populous city. The Carmel chapter of the national organization is responsible for providing EMS response to many of the beaches in the Haifa area.

With the onset of beach season just days away, the chapter had been working tirelessly to launch the new app before swimmers hit the shores en masse. On March 28, five beaches, Dado, Carmel, Bat Galim, Zamir and Kiryat Haim, opened for swimmers. But official beach season for the 14 beaches in the area begins after Passover, on April 24.

“We want to remind everyone that last year the swim season was littered with emergency calls across all the beaches in the city and included dozens of incidents of drowning. We found that the biggest problem was correctly locating the patients on the beach or in the water who needed help,” said Naftali Rotenberg head of the Carmel Chapter of United Hatzalah.

“EMS teams parked at the nearest parking lot to access roads and then had long hikes by foot to the location of the patient. They wasted precious time that could have been better used in providing treatment had they known the exact location of the incident before they set out,” he continued.

Furthermore, “Most of the incidents that required EMS assistance occurred during off-hours when there was no lifeguard on duty. Many incidents also on the beaches without lifeguard services. So we encourage the public to only swim on beaches that have lifeguard supervision.”

‘App Will Definitely Save Lives this Summer’

The new app was developed in partnership with the security services of the city of Haifa. “Due to the advanced technology being used in the app, we have succeeded in getting exact locations of incidents in all tests that we have performed using the app. By using the app, our volunteers have succeeded in arriving quickly to all of the emergency calls. This app will definitely save lives this summer,” Rotenberg said.

The app displays all of the popular locations along the beaches in the Haifa region. Declared beaches are displayed in blue, beaches that are off-limits are displayed in red and restaurants are displayed in orange. Tapping any of the highlighted locations will bring the responder to the parking lot closest to the incident and navigate via Waze. Dispatchers will send locations via the organization’s LifeCompass app to responders and the information will appear on the new beaches app allowing the responders to arrive faster.

Lior Fadida, a United Hatzalah volunteer and computer programmer, developed the app. “We wanted to keep it simple. The app gives a list of all major hot-spots on the beaches and connects the responder using the app on his phone to Waze and shows them the closest parking lot to the incident. For PC users, mainly dispatchers, the link allows one to find the location of the beach or restaurant and gives the dispatcher directions via Google Maps. The dispatcher can then relay the location of the nearest parking lot to the responder via phone or radio. It is simple, fast, and easy to use. In an emergency that is exactly what a responder needs.”

While the app is meant for the use of EMS responders, residents of the city and visitors to the beaches in the area are encouraged to save the link in their smartphone so that they can use it to more easily navigate the beaches in the area and call for help should they need it.

Courtesy United Hatzalah