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Mobile mitzvah

Local shul sends state-of-the-art ambulance to Israel

TEANECK – A bright yellow truck bearing a red star of David pulled into the parking lot of Cong. Rinat Yisrael last Friday morning and Bennett Deutsch saw the completion of an almost year-long project.

During last summer’s Second Lebanon War, Deutsch, a past president of Rinat Yisrael, was looking for a concrete way to help Israel. Jonathan Feldstein, the Israel representative to American Friends of Magen David Adom and a former Teaneck resident before he made aliyah in ‘004, told Deutsch that MDA needed about $160,000 for a state-of-the-art bloodmobile to replace one of its antiquated models.


Bennett Deutsch stands with the bloodmobile he championed.

"The war last summer took its toll on MDA’s aging fleet of bloodmobiles that were dispatched much greater distances and with much greater frequency to collect blood from even smaller groups than normal," Feldstein said last week. "What Bennett initiated and many Rinat members participated in is truly critical and could not be more timely."

The new unit is a prototype based on upgrades to another prototype MDA developed last year. While Deutsch knew the new bloodmobile would not make it to Israel before the end of the war, it was something the country could always use, he said.

"I thought it would be an appropriate opportunity for people to provide a joint meaningful capital asset" to MDA, Deutsch told The Jewish Standard last week. MDA "had just gotten a test model and wanted to upgrade the new fleet. I thought we might be able to raise that amount, then went about the arm-twisting."

While not an official fund-raiser of Rinat Yisrael, Deutsch had the support of the shul to ask for donations within the congregation. By the end of August, more than 40 Rinat donors had contributed the $167,000 needed to buy the bloodmobile. Of that amount, $130,000 came from contributions between $5,000 and $10,000.

"This entire project was really at the impetus of Bennett Deutsch," said Robert Kern, director of marketing & communications for American Friends of Magen David Adom. "He organized it. It was his idea. He raised the money. It could not have been donewithout him. He made this all happen."

American Friends of Magen David Adom is the largest provider of supplies to MDA, which supplies 97 percent of all blood needs in Israel, he said. On any given day, the yellow bloodmobiles can be seen on Israel’s streets.

A standard ambulance costs $70,000 to $80,000, while an advanced ambulance costs upwards of $100,000. The bloodmobiles are more expensive because they require refrigeration equipment to keep the blood sterile.

This new model is the first to be manufactured using an upgraded prototype developed last year. The unit not only acts as a transport for blood supplies, but it has a platform that can be used for collecting blood donations.

The bloodmobile was built by an Indiana-based company that specializes in customization of ambulances and Air Force vehicles. According to Kern, building the units in the United States and shipping them is more cost-effective for AFMDA-ARMDI.

"Not only are we providing them, we’re building them here," he said. "This is the best way to go."

The bloodmobile was scheduled to be flown to Israel earlier this week. Usually, AFMDA-ARMDI ships its equipment by sea but this was urgently needed and MDA is eager to see how it works, Kern said. If the organization is pleased with its performance, it will become the new standard for bloodmobiles in Israel.

Deutsch hopes the unit’s inscription of Rinat Yisrael’s donation will encourage other shuls and organizations to make similar donations. Once the vehicle is in Israel, AFMDA-ARMDI will begin publicizing it to attract other donors.

The bloodmobile was scheduled to leave Rinat’s parking lot Sunday night. Kern expects it to be on Israeli roads by next week. "MDA in Israel is very excited and very anxious to get this new vehicle into service as soon as possible," he said.

For more information on AFMDA-ARMDI, visit www.afmda.org

 

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