The following opinion piece by MDA Director-General Eli Bin was published in South Florida’s SunSentinel on
January 12, 2023.
Every week there’s another story in the world media about someone who died because of a problem originating at a 911 call center.
In Portland, ambulances are delayed before they’re dispatched while 911 operators go through a list of questions required by automated software.
Outside Washington, D.C., people drown in the Potomac River while calls handled by 911 operators on one side of the river have no means of knowing EMTs are closer to the victim across state lines on the other shore.
And even in Broward County, an investigation by this newspaper found thousands of calls to 911 went unanswered. Officials have called the local 911 system’s technology “materially deficient” and have no mechanism for automatically rerouting calls when they go unanswered.
At Magen David Adom, Israel’s national EMS organization, we read about these problems with dismay. After all, the U.S. is in many ways a far more advanced country than ours.
Israel’s emergency response system is by no means perfect. But we’ve solved some of the very problems the U.S. 911 system is grappling with by capitalizing on two dynamics unique to Israel.