On Wednesday evening, the Israel Rescue Coalition (IRC) will mobilize and dispatch a team comprised of elite members of United Hatzalah’s Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit to Houston, Texas in order to provide mental and emotional stabilization to people who need it.
The team includes Psychologists, Psychiatrists, and therapists and will be arriving in Houston early Thursday morning, local time. While not yet confirmed, there is a succinct possibility that a military psychologist from the IDF will be joining the group.
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“People need help on the ground,” said Dov Maisel, Director of International Operations for the IRC and Vice President of United Hatzalah. “‘They need to be able to wrap their minds around what was lost and they need assistance figuring out how to cope and where to go from here. That is the biggest challenge currently facing all Houston residents who have suffered during Hurricane Harvey.” Maisel himself was dispatched to Haiti in 2016 following Hurricane Matthew and Nepal in 2015 following the devastating earthquakes that killed thousands of people.
“We inquired on the ground in Houston with regards to what was needed and the response that we received was that the most urgent need was psychological and emotional assistance. The team members excel in exactly that. There are thousands of displaced people who are currently living in shelters across the area. We were told that Search and Rescue, as well as EMS assistance, were not needed at this time, but the option is there to send a second team comprised of experts in those areas should we be asked to bring them,” Maisel added.
The IRC is primarily a search and rescue unit comprised of Israel’s top level experts in mass casualty incident (MCI) and disaster response. The volunteer responders and trainers specialize in disaster preparedness, training, and deployment, as well as tactical search and rescue operations. Another aspect of the IRC’s mission is to train international emergency response personnel.The coalition was formed to provide immediate search and rescue response throughout Israel, and disaster relief worldwide. By utilizing the pre-existing Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit team members of United Hatzalah, the IRC is mobilizing the most specialized people in Israel to answer the greatest need currently on the ground in Houston.
Miriam Ballin, the Director of United Hatzalah’s Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit is a Houston native and was a student at Poe elementary school before she moved on to begin her Jewish education. As a native of the city, a veteran EMT and EMS dispatcher, as well the Director of the Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit, it was determined that Ballin should lead the mission. “I’m am happy to be given the opportunity to head back to my hometown and help during this time of crisis. Our team provides the IRC with a new capability developed in Israel that no one else in the world is currently doing, and that is to provide rapid response psychological first aid and trauma support. The community in Houston and the people of Texas feel a strong connection to the State of Israel and many of them are big supporters of the state and of the Jewish People. It is therefore, our responsibility to help them in their time of need, as friends and professionals who can offer help to our fellow human beings. We are going tonight to help all of the people of Houston, no matter what community you belong to or what your background is, from one “lone star state” to another, we will be there for you.”
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All donations made to the IRC over the course of the disaster will be used to help the displaced residents of the city.