Israel's Bezeq to convert pay phones into defibrillator stations

A public phone booth which has been converted into a defibrillator station as part of a plan to replace thousands of phone booths by Bezeq Israel Telecom and the country's ambulance service, is seen in Tel Aviv, Israel June 8, 2020. Ronen Topelberg/Bezeq Israel Telecom/Handout via REUTERS

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel’s main phone company said on Wednesday it would collaborate with the country’s ambulance service in replacing thousands of public phone booths with defibrillator stations.

Bezeq Israel Telecom BEZQ.TA said tens to hundreds of phone booths would be converted. So far, a few have been transformed into bright yellow boxes housing defibrillators, which restore a heart rate to normal by providing an electric shock.

The plan still needs final regulatory approval.

Bezeq has long attempted to get rid of the pay phones, which are hardly used but expensive to maintain.

“Public telephones have been a part of us but naturally with the advancement of technology they have become redundant, and we are happy they will be renewed” for a life-saving purpose, Bezeq said in a statement.

In the event of a heart attack, a bystander could call the emergency services number and be directed to the nearest defibrillator booth, while an ambulance is dispatched. The defibrillator is locked and can only be opened with a code.

Reporting by Steven Scheer; Editing by Tova Cohen