The Hatzolah of Los Angeles volunteer Emergency Medical Service was recently called twice in one week to search for separate missing persons who were believed to be in danger. Both were found alive and treated by Hatzolah EMTs before being transported to local hospitals.
The first missing person, a 48-year-old male, was an avid hiker and had last been seen sometime on Friday, March 9. By early morning March 11, Hatzolah volunteers had identified some 60 possible hiking areas that the missing man may have visited. Hatzolah identified high-priority areas in which to focus search efforts, enlisting the assistance of Chaverim of Los Angeles, another community-based volunteer organization.
At 5 p.m. Sunday, March 11, one of Hatzolah's EMTs located the missing individual's 2001 Honda Civic at the entrance to several trails of the Angeles National Forest in Alta Dena. Hatzolah officials shared this information with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and park rangers. While awaiting the arrival of public safety agencies, Hatzolah volunteers began searching nearby trails. Other Hatzolah and community volunteers went door-to-door, asking local residents if they had seen the missing hiker.
The sheriff's department deployed teams of hikers and ATVs, equipped with forward looking infrared radar (FLIR). During the search, Hatzolah worked closely with the Alta Dena Sheriff's office as well as with Scott Svonkin of Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Bacca's office. Hatzolah continued to search with the sheriff's department into the night.
At approximately 9 p.m. Sunday, Sierra Madre Mountain Rescue located the missing hiker at the bottom of a ravine. The hiker had reportedly suffered a head injury. A team of Hatzolah EMTs descended the ravine along with sheriff's rescuers and assessed the victim's condition, provided stabilizing medical treatment in order to facilitate safe extrication. The victim was transported to a nearby hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
The second missing person, a 42-year-old female resident of the South Bay, had gone missing after last speaking with an out-of-state family member over the telephone on Tuesday, March 13. Believing that the woman—who suffers from several medical conditions—was in danger, family members contacted local police, as well as Chaverim of Los Angeles.
Chaverim contacted Hatzolah and provided them with the information necessary to initiate a full-scale search effort. Local police were notified, and officers were informed to be on the lookout for the missing individual and her vehicle. With the cooperation of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and the Huntington Beach Police Department, the victim's cell phone records were obtained and a search radius of approximately one-half mile was identified.
By 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, Hatzolah had established a unified command post in the city of Redondo Beach, where the victim's cell phone had last been used. More than two dozen Hatzolah and Chaverim volunteers took part in searching the surrounding area for any sign of the victim.
At approximately 11 p.m., Hatzolah members found the woman's vehicle parked at a local motel. After Hatzolah responders confirmed that the missing woman had registered as a guest at this motel, the Redondo Beach Police and Fire departments were notified. The victim was found inside her room in critical condition and was promptly transported to Little Company of Mary Hospital in Torrance.
Hatzolah of Los Angeles is non-profit organization whose primary goal is to provide trained volunteers capable of responding to all emergency medical situations within the communities it serves. Hatzolah responders possess the training, skill and equipment necessary to provide competent medical and emergency care in conjunction with local municipal resources. With the support and endorsement of local community leaders and public safety agencies Hatzolah has trained nearly 100 volunteers as EMTs, who are certified by the Los Angeles County EMS Agency.