A lengthy legal battle that has dragged on for a year has finally come to a close with the New York State Emergency Medical Services Council (SEMSCO) overwhelmingly approving an application that would grant Ezras Nashim, a by-women for-women emergency medical care corps, the right to operate its own ambulances.
As previously reported on VIN News, Ezras Nashim appealed the New York City’s Regional Emergency Medical Council (REMSCO) denial of their application in October, noting that the group’s hearing officer had recommended its approval. Ezras Nashim also argued that it was inappropriate for several REMSCO Hatzolah members to vote on the matter given the ambulance corps’ very public opposition to Ezras Nashim.
23 SEMSCO members voted in favor of the Ezras Nashim application, with just two voting against the application. A third member, a medical director with Hatzolah, abstained.
Ezras Nashim founder Judge Ruchie Freier said that she believes that SEMSCO supported the application because they understood that it was motivated by altruism.
“They realized that we wanted to protect women’s modesty and that we had no ulterior motives,” Freier told VIN News.
Carson Kessler of The City tweeted that one council member cited the opposition of 49 rabbis as the reason for their no vote and quoted SEMSCO member Donald Duvall’s different view of the application saying, “The idea…that EMS is men’s work and women aren’t capable escapes me.”
Freier expects the ambulance certificate to be issued within the next few days and said that she has been eyeing a Sprinter-type vehicle, whose slightly smaller size is better suited to the crowded streets of Borough Park.
Having heard that SEMSCO felt it was unfortunate that Hatzolah and Ezras Nashim couldn’t work together, Freier noted that she had spent a full year in 2011 trying to team up with Hatzolah, who told her to open up her own organization. Despite all that has transpired since then, Freier said she would still be amenable to working together with Hatzolah.
“We are not fighting with anyone – we are fighting for women’s modesty,” said Freier. “If Hatzolah wants to work with us, my number hasn’t changed.”
Knowing that a statewide council understood the need for Ezras Nashim’s services was extremely uplifting for Freier.
“I think that this shows the strength of Jewish women,” observed Freier. “We are Torah abiding women and we aren’t afraid to stand up for what we believe in.”