Work together to avoid traumatising Miami survivors, Israeli charity urges
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Work together to avoid traumatising Miami survivors, Israeli charity urges

United Hatzalah, which is offering psychological support to survivors and victims' families, says agencies must coordinate on the ground

Michael Daventry is foreign editor of Jewish News

Rescue workers were at the site of the collapsed building for a fifth day on Monday (Photo: Reuters)
Rescue workers were at the site of the collapsed building for a fifth day on Monday (Photo: Reuters)

Israeli teams remained on the ground in Florida on Monday as rescuers continued for a fifth day to search for survivors in the rubble of a collapsed apartment block.

Nine people were confirmed dead but over 150 remain missing in a heavily Jewish neighbourhood of Surfside, near Miami.

Firefighters and other rescue workers were using sniffer dogs as well as radar and sonar devices to try pinpoint survivors beneath the debris.

Officials told breakfast news programmes on US television that they were still hopeful that people could be pulled out alive.

Meanwhile a comprehensive relief operation is underway in Surfside, with Jewish and Israeli organisations providing shelter, food and psychological support.

Israeli Diaspora Affairs minister Nachman Shai has led a humanitarian delegation including an IDF team to the area, while a 24/7 kosher kitchen provided thousands of hot meals and drinks to families and first responders at a nearby hotel.

United Hazalah’s Hadas Rucham and Dr Sharon Slater assist the IDF in gathering information about a missing person (Photo: United Hatzalah)

Specialists from United Hatzalah trained in psychological traumas have met local Jewish community leaders to discuss how to help survivors and victims’ families cope with the effects of the disaster.

Dovie Maisel, who is leading the Hatzalah mission in Surfside, said it was important that rescue agencies coordinated their response.

He said: “The worst thing operationally is to create a situation where dozens of care and assistance groups come in and all start trying to do therapy on a single individual or a few different individuals but end up traumatising them, due to the number of times that person would have to repeat the story over and over and over again to people from different organisations.

“The tragedy that these people lived through is one that for many can be incredibly debilitating. What we need to ensure is that we are treating them and not causing more harm.”

Among those receiving support was a man described as “completely distraught” who simply kept repeating the names of his family members who were missing in the rubble.

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