The right response in an emergency
Supplement Charity

The right response in an emergency

The director of British Friends of ZAKA explains why his emergency medical volunteer organisation is essential in Israel

ZAKA volunteers attend to the victims of a terror attack in Jerusalem 2015

Kobi Gideon/GPO/Israel
ZAKA volunteers attend to the victims of a terror attack in Jerusalem 2015 Kobi Gideon/GPO/Israel

David Rose knows all about terror attacks – and one in particular is engraved in his memory. Uniquely Rose, who is director of British Friends of ZAKA is also an emergency medical responder for the Israel-based volunteer organisation and it was in this capacity that he arrived to attend to the victims of a brutal attack by a ‘lone wolf’ during an intifada.

“I was working at ZAKA headquarters on Jerusalem’s Jaffa Road when I heard the call to assist at a nearby terror attack,” recalls Rose. “We arrived quickly, worked quietly, blocking out the noise and mayhem of the helicopters, the sirens, the screams, and the anger that surrounded us. We wiped away the blood. We collected the human remains.”

The impact of the incident is written across Rose’s face and it is significant to see at a time when Britain is on  high alert after three attacks. ZAKA’s other role on such occasions is to ensure a full Jewish burial for the victims and to deal with the terror aftermath in the most dignified manner possible.

“To honour the dead and to respect the living,” qualifies Rose – and it is a promise the UN-recognised organization keeps.

These experiences serve to remind Rose of the importance of his role at British Friends of ZAKA which is to help raise funds to buy much-needed emergency medical, search, rescue and recovery supplies for the 4,000+ ZAKA volunteers in Israel and around the world.

But though ZAKA volunteers in their yellow jackets are best recognised for their work at terror attacks, this is just a small part of their work. ZAKA is Israel’s primary search, rescue and recovery organisation, working alongside the emergency and security services at every incident of “unnatural” death. This could be anything from accidents on land, sea and in the home to natural disasters and building collapses. ZAKA also works alongside the IDF Home Front Command in times of conflict.

ZAKA has a large fleet of motorcycles equipped with first aid and fire-fighting equipment and ATVs for search and rescue operations, as well as specialist canine, divers, jet-ski and rappelling units – all of them offering a swift and professional response

“We are often the first to arrive at an incident – but always the last to leave,” says Rose. “After helping with the injured to save lives, our volunteers then begin the work of clearing the scene of all the horror  and spilled blood. On a global level, ZAKA assists at major natural disasters such as Nepal, Haiti, Japan and Thailand, offering assistance and expertise regardless of religion, race or gender.”

British Friends of ZAKA is currently raising money to buy urgently-needed emergency medical supplies and search and rescue equipment to ensure that the ZAKA volunteers can carry out their sacred work. “Not everyone could do the work of a ZAKA volunteer,” acknowledges Rose. “But everyone can be a partner in their sacred work, by donating money to buy the equipment they so urgently need.”

• Visit:


read more: