American Friends of Magen David Adom (AFMDA) brought together world-renowned experts in disaster response and emergency medicine, as well as supporters of lifesaving technology, on Monday, December 12, for its New York Gala. The event drew more than 520 guests and raised $2.3 million for Magen David Adom’s (MDA) EMT training and equipment, which saves lives every day in Israel and internationally. As a non-governmental organization, MDA relies on contributions from around the world to support its critical work.
The evening’s program included remarks from Dani Dayan, Consul General of Israel in New York, and featured former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who presented the AFMDA 2016 Visionary Award to AFMDA board chairman Mark D. Lebow and Patricia Harris, CEO of Bloomberg Philanthropies and former first deputy mayor of New York City. Lebow is recent chairman of New York City Transit Authority, former chair of the New York City Civil Service Commission, and founding partner of the law firm Lebow & Sokolow, LLP.
A cappella phenomenon the Maccabeats performed the Israeli and U.S. national anthems. Stars who came to express their support included Charlotte Kirk (Oceans 8, now filming in New York); Osric Chau, actor, The CW’S Supernatural; and JiaJia Fey, Instagram influencer at @VaJiaJia, and Director of Digital at the Jewish Museum, formerly of the Guggenheim.
Addressing the crowd, Bloomberg recalled his own experience visiting Jerusalem nine years ago with his mother and sister to honor his father through the renovation and expansion of MDAs flagship emergency response center, renamed the William H. Bloomberg Magen David Adom Jerusalem Station. Bloomberg thanked Lebow for introducing him to MDA, and praised Harris for being the driving force behind everything Bloomberg Philanthropies does around the globe. Together, “Mark and Patti have helped make the world better in so many different ways,” he remarked. “And they always make the people who work for them better.”
Before welcoming the couple to the stage, Bloomberg also noted that in recent years they have helped to more than double MDA’s elite ambulance fleet from 500 to 1,200. Lebow accepted the award by applauding AFMDA’s supporters in the room, stating, “Maybe we are dreamers, but it is nice to be dreamers with everyone in this room, to help save countless lives.”
Dr. Jason Nehmad of West Long Branch, N.J., was honored with the AFMDA Young Professional Leadership Award. A former MDA volunteer, Nehmad is now an internal medicine doctor at Meridian Health in Oakhurst and in Ocean, and Director of Rehabilitation Services at Monmouth Care Center in Long Branch. He dedicated his award to MDA’s EMTs and paramedics, several of whom were in attendance from Israel.
Throughout the evening, guests explored firsthand how MDA’s emergency responders work on the ground. An on-site command and control center, known as the “Mamlan,” was on display and connected to the live, real-time system in Israel, showing how MDA coordinates the dispatch and response of the organization’s 1,000+ ambulances, 200 Medicycles, and close to 15,000 professional and volunteer EMTs and paramedics.
A Medicycle, which on average reaches those experiencing medical emergencies in 5 minutes, was also exhibited. For well over a decade, MDA’s use of Medicycles, built to navigate difficult terrain and weave through congested streets and highways, has allowed EMT’s to respond faster. Each Medicycle, at a cost of $36,000, features state-of-the-art life-saving medical equipment and technology, emergency lighting and siren, and protective gear.
MDA depends on the generosity of individuals around the world — particularly in the United States — to provide lifesaving EMS and blood services, ambulances, and disaster relief for Israel’s population of 8.5 million people. A global leader in emergency medical response, MDA responds to international disasters, and, in recent years, conducted lifesaving missions to Nepal, Haiti, Indonesia, Japan, and Turkey. MDA also shares its innovations, experiences, and knowledge with EMS agencies around the world, including in the United States, where it recently worked with EMS and other public-safety agencies in Westchester County, N.Y.
Last month, MDA celebrated the groundbreaking of the Marcus National Blood Services Center — the world’s first fully operational underground blood center facility, to protect Israel’s blood supply which serves the entire country of Israel. MDA also launched an innovative smartphone app with a host of potentially lifesaving features.
“For Magen David Adom, the equation is simple: Technology plus community equals innovation,” said AFMDA CEO David Frankel in his opening remarks. “Magen David Adom’s unique protocols and best practices ensure that all its dispatchers are trained EMTs and paramedics, so that help starts the moment you call. But at the end of the day, Magen David Adom is about the lives that are saved and the families that are kept intact.”
Magen David Adom (MDA) is Israel’s national emergency medical response organization and a member of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, providing skilled disaster-relief, ambulance, and blood services, to Israel’s 8.5 million people. MDA is the only organization mandated by the Israeli government to serve in this role, but its operations are not funded by the government. Instead, MDA relies on the funding from donors around the world. American Friends of Magen David Adom (AFMDA) is the largest supporter of MDA worldwide. For more information, please visit www.afmda.org. Follow AFMDA on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.