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Hatzolah’s aim is that it should end well

  • Hatz
When you think of Hatzolah, you imagine ambulances, accidents, sick people - you don’t equate it with a fun YouTube game that is going to inspire you not to text and drive at the same time.
by ANT KATZ | Jul 03, 2017

But that is what these innovative medical saviours have come up with.

Last week, after eight months of planning, strategising and development, Hatzolah began the rollout of their campaign called “It won’t end well!”, which is to stop people texting while driving.

If their first volley - a YouTube game they launched last week Friday and had been played 500 times by Tuesday - is anything to go by, this is something viral in the making.

A staggering 25 per cent of all motor-vehicle accidents globally involve cell phone usage, and Hatzolah says there is no reason to believe these statistics differ for the Johannesburg Jewish community they primarily serve.

And the figures for texting and surfing the web, are much higher. Texting while driving, takes the average driver’s eyes off the road for five seconds.

Other frightening statistics Hatzolah cites include: Talking on a phone while driving reduces your reaction time by half; texting while driving kills 11 teens a day; a whopping 20 per cent of drivers admit to surfing the web while driving; and using a phone while driving, increases your chances of crashing by 300 per cent!

“The high volume of callouts to motor-vehicle accidents on a regular basis, required that we did something proactive to address this situation…” says Darren Sevitz, executive general manager of Hatzolah, “…and not simply react when it occurs.”

Sevitz told Jewish Report this week that the YouTube gaming video was the brainchild of a Hatzolah volunteer, Warren Bome, whose Insignia Advertising do all the organisation’s branding and marketing.

“One of our aims is to educate proactively,” says Sevitz. This is borne out by a booklet, “Preventative Health Guidelines” they published recently in which all the articles are written by Jewish medical specialists who are leaders in their fields.

Many road accidents result from texting, says Sevitz. “It’s a (statistical) reality,” he says, “and if you can count it, it’s real!”

Research indicates that 10 per cent of drivers who text, veer out of their lanes. Furthermore, 50 per cent of all drivers admit to answering their phones while driving and, worse still, 50 per cent of young drivers admit to reading and replying to texts while driving!

Sevitz says Hatzolah had elected not to use traditional marketing channels for the “It won’t end well!” campaign and that there are more games to follow. He promises that a further “creative and fun element will follow shortly, but would not yet say what they were.

The accolades are pouring in for the game. “I played the game. I got to speed, escaped the cops and overtook people on their blind side!” says local online guru Alon Berman.

“In response to our campaign, I received a tremendous amount of rabbinic support, since using a phone while driving, in their opinion, is halachically forbidden as it could kill,” says Sevitz.

A psychologist and a psychiatrist who assist Hatzolah in counselling people who have been victims of road accidents gave the project their thumbs-up too. “If we can prevent accidents, it’s great,” says Sevitz, whose organisation respond to an average of 200 calls (many of them road accidents) a month.

Another preventive campaign Hatzolah recently launched, is their “Schools First-Aid Project”. Learners are selected from all Johannesburg Jewish day schools to be trained by Hatzolah - at their state-of-the-art facilities - in level-one first aid.

They are then issued kit and equipment and become the first-aid team at their schools.

Sevitz says Hatzolah decided to name the project for the recently-deceased Hugo Paluch, “in his memory and merit.” Like all other Hatzolah projects, this one too, was funded by community donors.

* Readers can see and play the game on www.sajr.co.za.

 

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