A group of 10 American firefighter volunteers, one from Baltimore’s Jewish community, arrived in Israel on the morning of Nov. 11 as part of the Emergency Volunteers Project’s most recent deployment.
With funding from the Jewish Federations of North America, EVP, an organization that trains volunteer emergency personnel to respond to crises in the Jewish state, will send most of those firefighters to stations in South Israel, where there has been fighting along the Gaza border and rocket attacks.
For Scott Goldstein, a captain at the Pikesville Volunteer Fire Company and U.S. director of training with EVP, this trip marks his second mission to Israel this year.
“Today is day two of a weeklong deployment, bringing me back to the Pitach Tikva station for the fourth time in as many years,” Goldstein said in a prepared statement on Nov. 12. “It is good to be with old friends and comrades, and to create new relationships. We have integrated with the Israeli crews and are fully part of the team.”
When American volunteers are asked to deploy, they must be able to do so within 48 hours, making timeliness an indispensable characteristic of the EVP missions.
“Our firefighters began their deployment to Southern Israel just hours before the latest round of violence in Gaza,” said Eitan Charnoff, director of emergency deployment and spokesperson. “This is a clear demonstration that whenever Israel is in need, EVP is the first on the ground.”
Charnoff was referring to a covert Israeli operation in Gaza that became deadly on Nov. 12. Adi Zahavi, CEO of EVP, disclosed that there are 40 additional volunteers on standby, should the security situation require further assistance. Charnoff confirmed seven of the 40 are Baltimore-area firefighters.