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Lifesaving Israeli training coming to Winnipeg

Magen David Adom paramedic Don Sharpe will be offering training for emergencies on Feb. 5 at the Rady JCC


In 2016, when Magen David Adom (MDA) introduced the Life Guardian Program, thousands of Israelis with no medical training jumped at the opportunity to participate.
The Life Guardian Program added another layer of responders to emergencies to potentially save more lives with faster response time, by certifying or recertifying everyday Israeli citizens. Many participants had learned CPR as part of their army service or teacher certification, and others took first-aid basics for the first time.




When an emergency call is taken at the MDA dispatch centre, the computer system locates and contacts the closest Life Guardians and asks them to help save the life of a person in their close proximity, while also dispatching the closest medic or paramedic.
With an eye on the rise in anti-Semitic attacks in North America, Canadian Magen David Adom (CMDA) has come out with a training program that aims to give everyday people the know-how to help if they are in proximity to the site of a mass casualty incident.

The training is designed for anyone, no matter how much or how little medical training they possess, to give people the most basic tools to help save lives. It is called “The First 7 Minutes” and will soon be making its debut in Winnipeg.
The first training session is scheduled to take place on Feb 5th at 7 pm in the Rady JCC’s MPR (multipurpose room) and is being presented by CMDA and the Rady JCC. The special guest speaker will be MDA paramedic Don Sharpe, from Calgary who will train attendees and award certificates of training completion.
Sharpe has been a paramedic in Calgary for nearly 40 years. Four years ago, he had the fortune of training with MDA in Israel along with a group of other Canadian doctors.
“I’ve seen first-hand how an ambulance service should be run, and I think there are a lot of lessons there for us here in Canada – not just the actual frontline ambulance portion, but also for integration with hospital service, air service, and the Life Guardian Program,” said Sharpe.
“I tried several times to get that off the ground here, unsuccessfully, because, I think the community and cultural cohesion that seems to exist in Israel – we don’t have here.”
Sharpe grew up in the Jewish community of south west Calgary, though he is a Mormon by faith.
“As I grew older and started to watch what was happening with the rise of anti-Semitism and the violence against Jewish people and the State of Israel, I came to believe that Jews were precious,” said Sharpe.
“I wanted to work with a group that supported, not just the Jewish people, but also the State of Israel. So, when the opportunity came up…when I saw a presentation of a couple of doctors who had gone to Israel and worked with MDA, and they said they’d learned how to treat people on a moving ambulance…I was like, ‘Well, I can do that!’ They learned how to help people out in the field…and, I said, ‘I can do that!’”

Sharpe was especially impressed with MDA’s dispatch centre, which not only takes calls, but also provides lifesaving guidance over the phone until help arrives.
“We have so many people here now that, when an emergency occurs, they don’t know what to do,” said Sharpe. “The time I spent in MDA’s dispatch was really eye opening.
“When I first started in Canada, people would call 911 and we’d basically just take the call, start the ambulance, and hang up the phone.
“But, MDA’s idea that we can help people before the ambulance arrives is just brilliant. It makes such a huge difference.
“And now, to be able to teach groups of people, through “the First 7 Minutes” training, is perfect…groups of lay people on how to help a large number of people, casualties…in situations where everyone’s panicking. With just a little bit of training and some right thinking…there is now the idea that you aren’t powerless, that you can do something, you can cope. That little bit of training makes so much difference.”

Through “the First 7 Minutes” training, the first thing you will learn about is how to wrap your head around the possibility that you might be in a situation where 10 or 15 people are suddenly hurt and in need of help. The training will begin with a brief talk in order to best focus as much time as possible on practicing simulated mass casualty events.
“We start with something like a wall collapse, something without a bad guy, something that’s an accident rather than patients or blood,” said Sharpe. “This patient has a broken arm, this person’s unconscious, this person is bleeding from an abdominal wound…we go through determining who is in charge, how we know that person is in charge, where that person should stand and what s/he should do…what everyone else should do…and we also want to be alert for those people who are so freaked out by this that they don’t want to help at all.
“For those people, who might say they don’t like blood, I say, ‘Listen, there’s an important job for you. We need you to keep the people who aren’t hurt calm and look after them.’ I go, ‘Can you do that?’ And they say, ‘Oh yeah, I can do that.’”

The second simulated scenario might include an assailant. The third simulation will depend on the attendees and Sharpe’s observations on what should be further practiced.
“By the end of the training, you will walk away with some very basic understanding of how to work together as a team,” said Sharpe. “No matter who’s there, everybody can help a little bit. And, you know, if a situation ever truly arises where we have a large number of people hurt, you will remember the basics.
“You may not be good at it. Nobody ever gets good at it unless you spend the time I do treating patients, but you’ll be comfortable enough to say, ‘We can handle this and help people. We can take care of ourselves.’”
At the end, participants will receive a certificate. “I love the idea that people have to pay $10 for the training, because sometimes, when people just wander in and out and it’s free, they aren’t really paying attention,” said Sharpe. “Now that they paid, they’ll want to get their money’s worth, so they’ll have a real commitment to being there and learning this.
“I think communities need to learn to work together and to depend on themselves. And, it’s not only a good way to save lives in an emergency. It’s also a way to simply teach people to work together, so that, when they look at each other, they know they can depend on each other in an emergency. They’re well trained.”

CMDA and Sharpe are bringing the training to schools, synagogues, churches, and more.
While the topic is serious, you can expect Sharpe to include some humour along the way. “It can be a good time,” he said. “We have fun. People will walk away thinking, ‘I thought this was going to be pretty hard, but it was kind of fun.’”

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Local News

Congregation Etz Chayim says good bye to 123 Matheson Ave.

By BERNIE BELLAN After 71 years of serving as the home for first the Rosh Pina Synagogue, then for the past 21 years as the home for what was the merger of three different congregations – Rosh Pina’s, along with the Bnay Abraham and Beth Israel, the Etz Chayim Congregation held its final service on Wednesday, November 29.
You can read the story by CJN writer John Longhurst elsewhere on this site ( along with our earlier story about the sale of the building to an Eritrean Church (, but here are some pictures from the final service.

(Photos courtesy of Keith Levit)

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Local News

Israel report by former Winnipegger Bruce Brown

Bruce Brown

By BRUCE BROWN (posted Nov. 28/23) Was driving home from work the other day.  Pre-ceasefire.  Left the office early to reduce driving time in the evening hours.  Hamas likes their 6PM missile barrage and I’m honing my missile-avoidance routine.
Was listening to talk-radio… but kind of had enough of the news.  Too much war talk and its getting a bit overwhelming.  So switched to Spotify and up popped Supertramp – the Logical Song.  For sure how ‘wonderful, beautiful, magical’ life once felt.  Before Oct 7th.  Before Hamas. 
Then, as if on cue.  I gaze towards the sky.  And saw missiles flying overhead.  At first it didn’t really click. And then.  Yikes!  I quickly switched back to the news.  Where, in a very calming voice, they were announcing areas under missile attack.  Which is another reason to listen to the radio while driving during war – real-time information.  Lesson learned.
Suddenly my smartphone’s flashlight started flashing.  Which was pretty darn cool!  And there I was, on Star Trek.  Standing on the bridge.  Even recalled the vessel number – NCC-1701. There I was with Captain Kirk.  No!  I was Captain Kirk.  Dr. McCoy by my side.  Sulu and Chekov at the controls.  The Klingons were attacking.  And Mr. Spock -standing to the side- was calmy advising the attack coordinates.  No Wait!  That was the radio announcer.  Seriously.  This all took place within a split second in my over-active imagination.
The flashing continued.  Then I realized my cellphone was communicating with me.  Warning of danger.  I have the Home Front Command application which sounds an amazingly loud alarm during a missile attack in my area.  But changing between the radio and Spotify prevented the siren from going off.  So instead, the phone activated my flashlight.  Sending out an S.O.S.  Now how neat is that!  In a geeky sort of way.  Like for someone who imagines himself on Star Trek during a real-life missile attack.
Then.  Reality set in.  There were Home Front Command instructions to follow.  Momentary-panic set in.  Where was my wife.  To tell me what to do.  Like she always does…but that’s another story.  This time I wanted her there, instructing me. 
All these thoughts racing through my mind in milliseconds.  As I calmly slowed the car and veered to the shoulder.  Like other cars around me.  I put on the blinkers.  More flashing lights but the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise now a distant thought.  Looking both ways I left the car and hopped over the road- barrier.  Moving away from the car.  Although probably not far enough.  Because there was a steep decline just below.  It was getting dark and, suffering from poor night vision, I didn’t want to trip and hurt myself.  I heard my son laughing at me. “Nerd!” he called out.  But that was just my imagination.
I should have laid flat.  Prostrating myself for maximum protection.  But it rained earlier that day, the ground was wet and I didn’t want to get muddy.  ‘”Nerd!”  This time it was my daughter in my mind’s eye.  “Okay,” I said to no one in particular.  “I’ll squat.”  Good enough…but not really.
The family in the car ahead were huddling together but too close to their vehicle.  I shouted for them to move further away.  But they didn’t react.  Probably didn’t understand me, especially given my still heavily accented Canadian Hebrew.  This time I heard both my kids.  Teasing me – thirty years and still talk like an immigrant!  “Hey, they just don’t hear me.”  I said to the darkness.  Otherwise it was very moving seeing the father crouching down on top of his brood, in a protective sort of way.  “Isn’t that touching.” I said to my wife.  “For sure.” She said somewhat sarcastically in the back of my mind, “I know you’d do the same.”  
Then it was over.  The sky went quiet.  People returned to their cars.  The nestled family broke apart and entered theirs.  We should have stayed in place several more minutes.  Ten minutes is the recommended time.  But it was dark.  Getting late.  Also a bit cold.  I just wanted to get home.  Back to the real chiding of my kids and to my wife… somehow longing for her ordering me about.
A few minutes later my wife called.  Making sure I was safe.  And then routine set in.  “Don’t forget to pick up some milk and bread from the corner store.”  She instructed me.
Um Israel Chai
Bruce Brown.  A Canadian. And an Israeli.  Bruce made Aliyah…a long time ago.  He works in Israel’s hi-tech sector by day and, in spurts, is a somewhat inspired writer by night.  Bruce is the winner of the 2019 American Jewish Press Association Simon Rockower Award for excellence in writing.  And wrote the 1998 satire, An Israeli is….  Bruce’s reflects on life in Israel – political, social, economic and personal.  With lots of biting, contrarian, sardonic and irreverent insight.

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Local News

Jewish community holds solidarity rally November 25

The Jewish Federation of Winnipeg held a rally in support of Israel on Saturday evening, November 25.

A number of speakers addressed the crowd of 800, including Rabbi Yosef Benarroch of Adas Yeshurun-Herzlia Congregation; Members of Parliament Ben Carr & Marty Morantz; Yolanda Papini-Pollock of Winnipeg Friends of Israel; Paula McPherson, former Brock Corydon teacher; and Gustavo Zentner, President of the Jewish Federation.

Ben Carr

Click here to watch Ben Carr’s remarks:

Marty Morantz

Click here to watch a video of Marty Morantz’s remarks:

Gustavo Zentner

Click here to watch a video of Gustavo Zentner’s remarks:

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