Hatzolah Emergency Preparedness Event: Fun Activities and Potentially Life-saving Information


Tova Abadi

Yeshiva Aharon Yaakov-Ohr Eliyahu hosted Hatzolah’s Fifth Annual Emergency Preparedness Event on Sunday, June 26th. Many community groups presented useful information to the public while children delighted in an assortment of fun activities.

Among the activities were firetrucks the kids could board and the “Shakey Quakey School House,” an earthquake simulator. Kids entered “Shakey” and were taught to “drop, cover, and hold on.” Hatzolah also held a raffle and gave out free emergency kits.

Hatzolah and the LAPD demonstrated their response to a car wreck. There was an almost totaled car on display with “DO NOT TEXT AND DRIVEon the windows.

Parents had an opportunity to visit many booths. One demonstrated the Ring Home Security System, a device you attach to your door and an app which permits you to see who is ringing your bell or is hovering near your door from inside.

Eagle Scouts gave out bags of water which are safe for five years to keep handy in a car or home emergency kit. They are, in partnership with Be More Prepared, in the process of placing 97 containers throughout the city with emergency supplies of food, water, and supplies. A representative from Eagle Scouts said they are looking into kosher food. Supplies for emergency kits can be ordered from Ready America.

TELCAL demonstrated a completely off-grid communication system which sells for just under $4000. It comes in a briefcase-style enclosure and weighs only 25 pounds.

Arnie and Marilyn Weinger, creators of Kids Are 1st, manned a booth to fingerprint and take photos of the kids. The Weingers do not believe in putting kids in a database, so they handed the fingerprints and photos to the children’s parents, reminding them to periodically update their children’s pictures.

Douglas Feinberg and Jeffrey King, electrical professionals with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), demonstrated the dangers of downed power lines. They explained that these lines are extremely dangerous, and if one is down, one should stay at least 150 feet away. Also, there is no way for citizens to determine if the line is live with electricity, so if you are in a car and a line lands on it, stay in your car, do not get out, and call 911.

William Zhang, also representing LADWP, offered advice about water conservation. “Be considerate and try to use only what is a necessity to help avoid outages.” He explained that following the Aliso Canyon gas leak in 2015, the capacity of the major natural gas storage facility is a fraction of what it was before. He pointed to the display that advised to have an emergency kit, and to know how to shut off water and power.

Veronica Delacruz, the neighborhood prosecutor for West L.A. Division, representing City Attorney Mike Feuer, explained, “We have one neighborhood prosecutor in each of our police divisions across the city of L.A.” She said that they work with police and council offices, the goal being to problem solve for community issues. They also advocate in court for communities in L.A.

Kenny Lowenstein was on hand for Shomrim. He reminded people they can report any suspicious activity by contacting the Shomrim hotline at 424-294-8273. For LAPD non-emergencies, he suggested they phone 877-275-5273, adding that for any crime, 911 should be called first.

Joanne Troncale, a coordinator for the City of Los Angeles Emergency Management Department, handed out literature. She said that anyone who has a bundled package (internet, phone, TV) can contact Notify L.A. at http://www.NotifyLA.org to be added to the list enabling emergency text messages from the City – similar to Amber Alerts.

Rochelle Frankel of Bikur Cholim displayed a new initiative, an emergency food box. Mrs. Frankel also reminded visitors to the booth to participate in blood and bone marrow drives coordinated with Children’s Hospital.

Tickets were sold for snacks that included popcorn, snow cones, and cotton candy. Lunch selections included grilled chicken, salad, and hamburgers from Beverly Hills Kosher Market.

The award ceremony commenced with Councilman Paul Koretz explaining to the audience that keeping your family safe is one of the most important things you can do.

Michoel Bloom, Executive Director of Hatzolah, thanked Ohr Eliyahu for hosting the event, saying, “[One of] the greatest guiding principles in Judaism is expressing hakarat hatov.” He then added his deep gratitude to the many participants from all agencies in the community that were present, including the Los Angeles Fire Department, the Los Angeles Police Department, and a multitude of city officials.

LAPD Sergeant A.J. Kirby accepted an award on behalf of Assistant Chief Beatrice Girmala. Also present were city officials: Councilman David Ryu, Beverly Hills Battalion Chief Mike Hand, L.A. City Deputy Chief Darren Palacios, State Law Enforcement Deputy Director Yonaton Berdugo (on behalf of Bob Hertzberg), and LAPD Chaplain Shmuely Newman.

Hatzolah volunteers Tuvia Feldsher, Yitzy Moorvitch, Aryeh Rosner, Chavi Gorman, and Yocheved Rosenthal received awards from the State Senate and City Council, presented by Drug Commissioner Howard Winkler (on behalf of County Supervisor Mike Amtonovich) and former Commissioner Andrew Freedman.

According to David Bacall, Chief of all Field Operations of L.A. Hatzolah, “Our goal today was to bring together our public safety partners in an area where our local community can come out and meet them and see the people and build a trust. There are certain things incumbent upon all of us as Jews to do to prepare for emergencies, have emergency supplies, know the resources, know the numbers for the police, fire, for Hatzolah, and have them programmed in.”

Bacall also said that some people hesitate to call on Shabbos, not knowing who will come and if it’s a real emergency. “If you’re questioning it, call.”

The number for Hatzolah is 800-613-1911.