Abigail Klein Leichman
October 2

Just over a week after United Hatzalah sent a mission to Puerto Rico to assist people affected by Hurricane Fiona, the Israeli voluntary emergency response organization dispatched a second relief team, this time to assist in Floridians following the devastation caused by Hurricane Ian.

“This is our fastest turnaround time ever for separate missions,” said Vice President of Operations of United Hatzalah Dov Maisel as the team departed from Israel on Saturday night, October 1.

The team that assisted in Puerto Rico had arrived back to Israel on Friday. Its Washington-DC-based leader, UH Director of International Emergency Management Gavy Friedson, also is leading the mission to Florida.

The Florida-bound volunteers under Friedson include EMTs and members of UH’s Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit. Their main task will be providing psychological first aid and emotional stabilization to people traumatized by Hurricane Ian. Medical care and humanitarian assistance will be provided as needed.

“When we saw the level of damage caused by Hurricane Ian and the fact that millions of people were forced to evacuate and suffered losses and damage, we knew we had to help,” said Friedson, who was a United Hatzalah EMT in Israel for many years.

This will be Friedson’s third hurricane relief mission, and his second in Florida, having also been a part of the relief team that assisted after Hurricane Irma struck Florida in 2017.

Nor is this the first international relief mission for most of the team members, who’ve previously provided emergency care in places such as Houston following Hurricane Harvey in 2017, Pittsburgh following the synagogue shooting in 2018, Surfside following a building collapse, and Moldova during the refugee crisis at the beginning of the war in Ukraine.