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Israel’s first deaf EMT teaches first aid

Nechama Loebel

Nechama Loebel

When Nechama Loebel became Israel’s first deaf emergency medical technician one year ago, she wanted to share her success with others in the deaf community. Already during her training as an EMT first responder with United Hatzalah, Nechama was thinking of how to raise awareness and teach first aid response to deaf people in Israel.

Recently, Loebel was able to fulfill that dream, having instructed Israel’s first aid course in sign language, to members of the deaf community in Ashdod.

“In first aid response education, the deaf community needs an instructor who understands them and the world that they live in. When I completed the EMT course last year, there were deaf people already coming up to me and asking me if I could teach them how to save a life,” Loebel explained to TPS.

Loebel, who recently graduated from both a psychotrauma and crisis response course as well as an emergency medical service (EMS) instructors’ course, is certified to teach basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and EMS classes.

The first aid course took place in the community clubhouse for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Ashdod, where Loebel translated into sign language the information given by the local chapter head of United Hatzalah, Yechiel Cohen.

United Hatzalah offers family safety courses comprised of basic EMS skills, including CPR and proper procedures for treating common injuries such as burns, choking, light wounds and broken bones.

“The participants were excited to learn about first aid response, especially from someone who understands where they are coming from — both in mentality and culturally,” Loebel told TPS. “The deaf community is a world unto itself.”

“To be an EMT is a huge privilege for me,” said Loebel, 31, who grew up in Jerusalem and today lives in central Israel.

In her volunteer work with United Hatzalah, Israel’s national volunteer emergency response organization, Loebel receives notifications to medical emergencies in her area through vibrations her phone sends.

“Nechama has been a treasure to our organization,” said United Hatzalah president and founder Eli Beer.

“Not only is she an active volunteer who has saved many lives and helped other volunteers in the field communicate with patients who are deaf or hard of hearing, but she has been an inspiration to us all and challenges us to continue to expand our horizons and include people from all walks of life.

“The plan is to teach first aid in sign language in cities across Israel,” said Loebel. “Ashdod is just the beginning.”




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