I am a religious Orthodox Jew living in Australia.
I am a Plastic, Reconstructive and Hand Surgery Registrar. This means that I am currently specialising in this field, and am in training to become a Plastic, Reconstructive and Hand Surgeon. This involves things like limb and digit amputations, time critical hand injuries where vascular supply may be compromised, necrotising fasciitis, and other emergencies.
Until recently I have been (a) a general surgery registrar, and (b) working at a hospital within walking distance of my home.
I have recently been posted to a hospital that is a 35-45 minute drive and well outside walking distance (though still in the same city).
On discussing the issues surrounding Shabbos with people from both here and London, I have hear that some hold that if you are on call, you may either drive or catch a taxi to work if you are called in. I have not had need to use this in the past and therefore am unsure of the Halacha in this instance.
I have asked a Rav here in Melbourne and he suggested I email your organisation.
My question is regarding driving/transport to (and from) the hospital when one is on call for emergencies.
Thanking you very much for your help,
The correct approach in your case is as follows:
a. Commute to the hospital in a car or a taxi driven by a gentile.
b. This commute must be set up before Shabbat, including matters of payment, so that during Shabbat you would only need to enter the vehicle ordered in advance and reach the destination (the hospital or home)
c. In case of an unexpected problem the taxi did not arrive, you are permitted to call for a taxi by telephone diruing Shabbat from your home to the hospital and pay the driver yourself. If this occurs when you need to get back home, you should ask a gentile to arrange for the ride and pay for it – and you will reimburse him after Shabbat.
d. If you are able to exchange your turn on Shabbos with someone else, it is best to do so. (Igros Moshe, O.C. 4:79; Lev Avraham 13:145)
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