When Jerusalem born Ellie beer was six years old he and his brother witnessed a suicide bombing in Jerusalem, on their way back from school. The two young boys, saw a man yelling for help on the sidewalk but were so scared they ran home.
This experience instilled within Ellie a drive to save lives, so ten years later, he volunteered at a local ambulance service, eager to fulfill his mission. However, in two years of volunteering, he never got to save a single life, as his crew always arrived too late on the scene.
One day, they responded to an emergency call relating to a boy who was choking on a hotdog. There was terrible traffic that day, he says, and the ambulance desperately tried to get to the boy. When they finally arrived they initiated CPR on the boy. During this, a doctor from the neighborhood came running in to help, but told them to stop. He declared the boy dead. Ellie, heartbroken, realized that the boy died for nothing. If only, the doctor had been alerted earlier, the event would have ended different.
This set him off on what he describes was his life mission, to find a better solution.
In 1996, Bear founded Hatzolla Israel, now United Hatzolla, using specially equipped motorcycle ambulances and an advanced GPS technological application, to provide free around the clock rapid response to emergency situations across Israel. Their network of over 2,500 dedicated volunteer medics has so far provided emergency medical treatment to over 207,000 people, of which 47,000 were life-critical situations and with an average response-time, in less than three minutes.
After an emergency call, the organizations GPS application, developed by NowForce, dispatches the call to the closest five medics in the area and they drop whatever they are doing and go to the scene. Volunteers drive fully-equipped “Ambucycles,” wherever they go, supplied by the organization.
Beer recalls how as teenagers, following that initial incident, 15 friends and him bought police transmitters and tapped into the frequencies of the ambulance service, so that if anything happened close to their neighborhood, they would be first on the scene.
In 2010, Beer received the Social Entrepreneur Award from the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, in cooperation with the World Economic Forum of Davos. The award is given to those driving social innovation and transformation in various fields including education, health, environment and enterprise development.
In 2002, Ellie got a call from two Muslim Arabs from East Jerusalem, Muhammed Asli and Murahd Alian, who wanted to talk to him. They told him that their 77 year old father had died from a heart-attack, in front of their eyes, after the ambulance arrived an hour after the distress call.
They told him that they wanted him to start Hatzolla in their neighborhood. He agreed and went ahead in full force and started United-Hatzollah, in East Jerusalem.
“Hand in hand, Jews and Muslims were working together to save lives. It’s not about saving Jews or saving Muslims or Saving Christians but about saving lives,” he says.
When Elli’s father collapsed from a heart-attack a few years later, the first medic to arrive on the scene and save his father’s life, was a Muslim Arab from East Jerusalem. “You can imagine how I felt,” says Ellie.