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Op-Ed: Give Hatzalah a Break This Purim

A Flatbush Hatzalah volunteer implores members of the community to finally allow him to celebrate Purim with his family, instead of having to rush around providing first aid and transport to individuals who consumed an irresponsible amount of alcohol:

I am not a supervisor, coordinator, or in any other way a big macher. I am a simple EMT, a volunteer in Hatzalah.

I love volunteering in Hatzalah, I get to help people in their time of need. I love to do it, but it does come at a price. I often have to leave my home, put aside my work, to run out and help another person in need. And I do it gladly, without hesitation and without complaint.

This Thursday, I will be sitting down like everyone else to eat Se’udas Purim with my family. I know from years past that the chance of me actually getting to enjoy the entire Se’uda with my family is almost zero. I know from past experience that the call I will be running out on my family – not for some poor soul suffering some traumatic or medical emergency – but rather for a self-inflicted medical emergency.

We at Hatzalah will get call after call for people who are drunk.

I don’t have to explain what is wrong with extensive drinking, the immediate dangers of being incapacitated by intoxication, and the literally life-wrecking problems of alcoholism. Rather, this Purim, before you drink yourself to oblivion or allow someone in your care to do so, I want you to also think about me. Ask yourself what right you have to pull me away from my family because you are too drunk to protect your own airways! Who gave you the right to do that?! And what kind of chutzpa does it take, to take away resources from your entire community, tying up personnel and ambulances for your drunkenness, when they may be needed for someone having chas vishalom a heart attack!

Chag purim Sameach!

Say l’chaim within moderation, stay safe, and remember we are always there for you.

A Flatbush Hatzalah Volunteer

6 Comments

  • 2. Pinny wrote:

    Lock the liquor up and no one will get drunk. And keep teenagers from drinking. One can celebrate and have a joyous Purim without drinking.

    • 3. Milhouse wrote:

      Drinking on Purim is a mitzvah, and drinking every day is also a good thing, both for adults and teenagers, וטוב לב משתה תמיד, and it’s also good for the body, but only if one can handle it. During the year one should get happy but not drunk; on Purim one should get drunk, but not sick. One who is unable to control his drinking, and knows that if he starts he will end up needing medical attention, should not start.

      It is good for young people to explore their limits, which means pushing at them so they can learn where they lie; this means that when teenagers drink more than they can handle it’s a good thing, part of growing up, but only if they survive the experience with no serious medical consequences. Throwing up is OK; needing to call a paramedic is not. Therefore I believe they should drink under adult supervision.

    • 4. K wrote:

      Drinking is for goyim. It not a good action for Noach to get drunk after the mabul! Nothing good came out of it. Chazal tell us to drink on Purim but IMMEDIATELY warn about Rava and Rav Zeira. No matter what pshat you learn in the story (see Mharsha etcfor various pirushim) it is clearly a caution regarding the drinking. This is out of character – normally we would be encouraged when discussing a mitzva, even to go overboard, but here it is a red flag.

  • 5. Unfortunately wrote:

    Its not about you. Those that drink too much do not care about hatzalah and their members. It is sad, but I would be quite surprised if this makes a difference. It should though!

  • 6. Citizen Berel wrote:

    Thank you for everything you do.

    Drinking is a hot button subject and no institution is more beloved than Hatzolah so it isn’t easy to say this, but I believe this op-ed to be extremely inappropriate.

    You do not want people thinking about whether they are imposing before picking up the phone and doing what’s needed in the event of sofek pikuach nefesh.

    If this op-ed will cause an moment of misplaced hesitation …. G-d forbid.

    Hatzolah members have been missing out on purim meals for years (may Hashem bless you all in this world and the next) and we’ve never seen any public grievance as to the imposition.

    No doubt you are correct that drinking yourself into danger is the worst of ideas, but the motivation not to do so should not be so as not to inconvenience Haztolah. That is absurd idea and it is a dangerous idea.

    If you have a doubt of pikuach nefesh, whether with respect to yourself or someone else, whether alcohol related or not alcohol related, pick up the phone.

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