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Meet Montreal’s crew of Jewish emergency responders

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Simcha Wenger was at his Montreal synagogue when he got the call: come quickly, a man in his 30s is choking.

Wenger and a group of fellow worshippers hopped in a car and were at the nearby home in minutes.

The man was, in fact, having a heart attack.

In those first crucial moments before paramedics arrived, Wenger grabbed a defibrillator from the car and shocked the man back to life.

Without his care, Wenger believes, the man might not have survived.

“We followed up with him after,” Wenger recalled during a recent training session for Hatzoloh Montreal, a Jewish emergency response service.

Montreal’s Jewish rescue squad 2:22

“I ended up spending three hours in the hospital.”

Wenger, who runs a grocery store on Park Avenue, is one of roughly 80 of the group’s volunteers. There are also rabbis, teachers, businessmen — even a magician (he sometimes uses magic tricks to cheer up kids after a scare).

Together, they ensure someone is available 24 hours a day.

“Our response time is generally between two and four minutes. Often that makes the difference between life and death,” said Sheldon Goldberg, one of the organization’s directors.

One division serves the primarily Hasidic community in the Outremont area. The other services the city’s west end, including Côte-des-Neiges, Côte-Saint-Luc and Hampstead.

Volunteers are required to attend a monthly training session, where they learn the latest in emergency response techniques. (Craig Desson/CBC)

Not all the calls are so consequential in nature. Volunteers can end up treating anything from a bad fall to heat exhaustion or a stroke.

A dozen women serve as dispatchers, taking calls from their homes and connecting those in need with a nearby volunteer.

“We have a dispatch centre set up right in my kitchen,” said Chany Herzog, who lives in Outremont. She notifies 911, she says, for anything that warrants serious medical attention.

Watch Chany Herzog take a call from her kitchen:

A legal ‘grey zone’

The volunteers are trained by paramedics and treat anyone in need, but they are not permitted to transport patients to hospital and, if an injury or illness is serious, Urgences-Santé is contacted right away.

The service operates in a kind of “grey zone,” Goldberg said.

The organization is overseen by a medical director and covered by liability insurance, and yet, Golberg stresses, “We’re not here to replace Urgences-Santé or the fire department.”

“We’re here as an adjunct and to offer an extra service to our community to help them in their time of need, to have the best outcome,” he said.

“The idea is basically community members trying to help community members.”

Stefan Overhoff, a spokesperson for Urgences-Santé, said the service is viewed by paramedics as an asset, not a burden.

“We’ve been working together for years,” he said. “It works well. It’s a help to the population.”

Hatzolah has two official vehicles, but most of the volunteers use their own cars.

Recently, a Hatzoloh volunteer — Shalom Grunwald, the owner of a bagel shop — was the first at the scene to treat a man who had suffered a seizure. Grunwald gave the man oxygen and kept him stable until Urgences-Santé arrived.

“We don’t ask age, sex, religion,” Goldberg said.

Shalom Grunwald treated a man with a medical condition near his bagel store until Urgences-Santé arrived. (Chaya CN/Facebook)

Tight-knit community

Montreal’s Hatzoloh service was founded in 1996. It depends on donations to maintain its supply of medical equipment, such as EpiPens, stretchers and defibrillators.

Wenger said having access to someone from their own community made them feel more at home. If more specialized care is needed, they get it.

“We will tell them when they need to go to the hospital,” he said.

The first such service was founded in the late 1960s in Brooklyn, N.Y., as an attempt to improve emergency medical response and address cultural concerns of the Yiddish-speaking Hasidic community.

There is a similar organization serving the Jewish community in Toronto and others in countries across the globe — including Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa.

In Montreal, volunteers must study emergency-response textbooks and attend classes, for a combined total of 150 hours. They’re then tested, and only those who pass with high marks are allowed to join Hatzoloh.

Yisroel Menkes, who teaches at a Montreal rabbinical school, said he knew he wanted to join Hatzoloh when, as a 12-year-old, he began leafing through his uncle’s emergency-response booklet. The photos were unsettling — and intriguing. 

He remembers thinking, “This is for me. I’m terrified of blood.”

Menkes, now a father of six, manages to carve out time for volunteer service and the required monthly training sessions.

“Living in a community, you always want to give back,” he said.

Watch the Hatzoloh members in action:

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Post-vaccine surge? Michigan’s spring coronavirus case spike close to previous year’s autumn high

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(Natural News) The spike in new Wuhan coronavirus infections recorded in Michigan over the spring is similar to a spike seen during the 2020 fall season. According to a Wall Street Journal analysis, the state’s daily coronavirus case count averaged more than 7,000 for almost two weeks – before taking a slight dip to 6,891 on April 20. This echoed similar figures back in November and December 2020, which saw sharp rises in infections for those two months before plunging.

Back in autumn of last year, Michigan averaged more than 7,000 cases per day for a span of 10 days. New infections dropped slightly, then briefly spiked as the December holidays approached. It then fell to the low 1,000s for the succeeding two months – until ascending again in March.

According to University of Michigan internal medicine professor Dr. Vikas Parekh, the sudden increase in new infections could be attributed to several factors. Among the factors he cited was re-openings, which increased people’s interactions and mobility. Parekh said the loosened restrictions contributed to the spread of the highly contagious U.K. B117 variant.

“As the B117 variant spreads nationally, we will likely see other stats [with] their own surges – although I hope none are as bad as Michigan,” the professor remarked. He continued: “The milestone just tells us we are not yet in the clear, especially as we still have large portions of our population who are not vaccinated yet.”

Parekh also expressed optimism over the lower daily caseloads the Great Lakes State reported. He said he believes both cases and hospitalizations have plateaued and will likely decline soon. The professor commented: “[COVID-19] positivity has been declining now for one week, which is usually a leading indicator of case decline.”

Meanwhile, the state cited younger populations and youth sports, such as basketball, wrestling and hockey, to increase new COVID-19 infections. Because of this, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called to suspend youth sports and indoor dining in the state. She also exhorted high schools to conduct remote class sessions for two weeks to curb the spread of the pathogen.

Michigan still experienced the spike in cases despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in the country

During the opening stages of the U.S.’s immunization drive against COVID-19, Michigan boasted of having one of the highest vaccination rates nationwide. A report by Bridge Michigan even noted the initial “frenzy for vaccines” that “far exceeded the state’s limited supply.” But things have appeared to turn around for Michigan, as it now struggles to reach the 70 percent vaccination rate needed for herd immunity.

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Scottish mom’s legs turn into a pair of “giant blisters” after first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine

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(Natural News) Sarah Beuckmann of Glasgow, Scotland, felt a tingling sensation in her legs and noticed a rash flaring up around her ankles a week after getting her first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine on March 18.

She also had flu-like symptoms right after the vaccination.

Beuckmann called her doctor to arrange an appointment the morning she noticed the rash, but by the afternoon her skin was already breaking out into blood-filled blisters. Blisters also appeared on her legs, hands, face, arms and bottom.

“I ended up asking my husband to take me to A&E,” said Beuckmann, referring to “accident and emergency,” the equivalent of an emergency room (ER). “When I got there, my heart rate was sitting at 160bpm, which they were very concerned about. I got put on an ECG machine.”

Doctors determine AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine triggers the rash

Medics carried out tests for HIV, herpes and other skin conditions to work out what triggered the rash, but all results came back negative. Doctors finally determined that the vaccine caused her rare reaction after carrying out two biopsies.

“Once they found that it was a reaction to the vaccine, they put me on steroids and that really seems to be helping my progress,” said Beuckmann. She had been advised by her doctor not to get the second dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine because of her reaction.

Beuckmann spent 16 days at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. She was discharged to recover at home. The 34-year-old mother of one is currently wheelchair-bound due to the bandages on her legs and blisters on the soles of her feet. She may need physiotherapy to help strengthen her leg muscles.

“They are starting to heal and they’re looking a lot better than they were but as the blisters started to get worse, they all sort of merged together,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

With the blisters merging, her legs have looked like a pair of “giant blisters.” Beuckmann admitted that at one point she feared her legs might have to be amputated.

Dermatologist agrees COVID-19 vaccine causes the blisters

Dr. Emma Wedgeworth, a consultant dermatologist and spokeswoman at the British Skin Foundation, agreed that Beuckmann had likely suffered a reaction to the vaccine.

“Vaccines are designed to activate the immune system. Occasionally people will have quite dramatic activation of their immune systems which, as happened in this case, can manifest in their skin” Wedgeworth told MailOnline. “This poor lady had a very severe reaction, which thankfully is extremely rare.”

It is not clear why Beuckmann, who works in retail, was invited for a vaccine. Scotland’s vaccine rollout was focused on people over the age of 50 when she got vaccinated, although vaccines are available to those who are considered at risk from the virus, or live with someone considered vulnerable.

At least 20 million Briton have had AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, which drug regulators say causes a rash in one percent of cases. They say rashes caused by the jab tend to go away within a week.

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Trojan labs? Chinese biotech company offers to build COVID testing labs in six states

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In 2012, BGI acquired Complete Genomics, a DNA sequencing company and equipment maker. The funds for the $117.6 million purchase were raised from Chinese venture capitals. The company has expanded its footprint globally. According to its website, BGI conducts business in more than 100 countries and areas and has 11 offices and labs in the U.S.

People are concerned about China’s access to American DNA data

Some said that with Complete Genomics providing an American base, BGI would have access to more DNA samples from Americans, helping it compile a huge database of genetic information. Some also worried about the protection of the genetic information’s privacy.

According to a 2019 report from the U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), BGI “has formed numerous partnerships with U.S. healthcare providers and research organizations to provide large-scale genetic sequencing to support medical research efforts,”

There are three main reasons why many people in the biotech community and government have expressed concerns about China’s access to American DNA data.

In the “60 Minutes” interview, Evanina discussed the very likely scenario in which Chinese companies would be able to micro-target American individuals and offer customized preventative solutions based on their DNA.

Evanina asked: “Do we want to have another nation systematically eliminate our healthcare services? Are we okay with that as a nation?”

The second concern is that China may use DNA to track and attack American individuals. As the USCC report states: “China could target vulnerabilities in specific individuals brought to light by genomic data or health records. Individuals targeted in such attacks would likely be strategically identified persons, such as diplomats, politicians, high-ranking federal officials or military leadership.”

The third concern is that China may devise bioweapons to target non-Asians. Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, discussed it in his article “What Will China Do With Your DNA?” published by The Epoch Times in March 2019.

He wrote: “We know that the Asian genome is genetically distinct from the Caucasian and African in many ways. … Would it be possible to bioengineer a very virulent version of, say, smallpox, that was easily transmitted, fatal to other races, but to which the Chinese enjoyed a natural immunity? … Given our present ability to manipulate genomes, if such a bio-weapon can be imagined, it can probably – given enough time and resources – be realized.”

An article from Technocracy said: “China’s aggressive collection of American DNA should be doubly alarming because it can only spell one ultimate outcome: biowarfare. That is, genetically engineering viruses or other diseases that will be selectively harmful to U.S. populations.”

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