Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Hearing Officer Recommends License For Orthodox Jewish Women's Ambulance Service

A hearing officer's Nov. 11 report (full text) to New York City's Regional Emergency Medical Services Council recommends that an Orthodox Jewish women's organization known as Ezras Nashim be granted a certificate of need so it can operate an ambulance service directed to Orthodox Jewish women.  The Forward sets out some background:
Ezras Nashim, the female team which serves as emergency medical technicians in Boro Park, Brooklyn, was founded because Orthodox women in that community are often uncomfortable with male medics, even in emergencies. Their religious value of modesty prohibits men and women to touch unless they are husband and wife or close relatives.
Founded with little money and in the face of much community opposition in 2014, Ezras Nashim has operated by driving around in its members’ own cars. Now they’re trying to grow.... But the Orthodox-run male EMT service, Hatzolah, that opposed their founding is trying to block the ambulance application. The fight over the ambulance reflects a much broader communal debate about female modesty, and who gets to define it — men or women?
The Hearing Officer said in part:
A conservative approach would deny the request for an ambulance certificate on the strength of faster response times by all-male Hatzolah, or slower non-culturally aware FDNY and other responders. But that approach ignores the clear need that exists among the Orthodox Jewish women.
The application filed by Ezras Nashim, as well as video and transcripts of the public hearing on the application are available from REMSCO's website.