Volunteer EMTs and Midwife Deliver Two Babies In 24 Hours on Tisha B’Av

Motzei Shabbat saw the beginning of a very active day for a few United Hatzalah volunteer EMTs and a midwife who delivered two babies over the course of 24 hours. The first call took place just after Shabbat ended and the fast of Tisha B’Av began, a new girl was born. 

 

Yechiel Rosenberg a volunteer EMT with the organization was the first on scene at the first birth. “We got the emergency call on our Bluebird communication devices of a woman in active labor nearby. I rushed over together with another EMT and when we got there the woman said she had to push. We told her to push and thankfully we saw the head crowning and there were no complications. When the baby was delivered, we performed an APGAR test and continued with all the proper procedures for the mother to prepare her for transport to the hospital,” Rosenberg said. 

Layush (left) and Peretz (Right) holding the second baby delivered in 24 hours

The second delivery was similar to the first, except this time, Rosenberg was joined by fellow EMT Esther Peretz and a midwife Ayala Layosh who were both in the vicinity. 

 

“For the second birth I was the first person in the room,” said Peretz. “I had been at home when I got the call and it was just after the fast ended. I rushed over and once the male volunteers saw me coming they ushered me to go upstairs and waited downstairs in case I needed them. I rushed upstairs to check on the mother and she was in active labor. I began the checkups necessary and was joined almost immediately by Ayala Layush, a Midwife who volunteers with United Hatzalah.” 

 

“Ayala handled the majority of the labor and I made sure that the male responders waited outside,” Peretz added. “I told them that we had the situation under control and for the privacy of the mother that they should wait outside until we needed them. We handled the birth and made sure that everything was calm for the mother and that she was able to deliver her baby in a calm setting, with the proper care that she needed, without invading her privacy too much. When it was all over we allowed the ambulance team inside so that they could prepare the mother and new born baby boy for transport.” 

 

Peretz said that when it comes to these emergencies sensitivity to the mother can make a huge difference in the outcome of the call. “It is important that women are here for other women especially in instances where there are complications. It puts the patient more at ease to know that other women are there supporting her and that alone helps get her through a lot of the process of birthing which is traumatic enough already.”    

 

“Responding to a home-birth is not as common an occurrence for an EMT as one would think,” said Rosenberg. “I’ve responded to about four or five births over my time as an EMT, but never two in one day. This is incredibly rare and it is a blessing. As the first baby was a girl the second was a boy, I quipped with my fellow responders that perhaps in a few years we should make a shidduch (match) between the two infants. After all, they are from the same city and they have the same birthday,” he said with a smile.  

 

Waxing serious Rosenberg spoke about how special an occurrence this was on the saddest day of the Jewish calendar. “After seeing all of the tragic emergencies that we rush out to, it is cleansing for the soul and gives a sense of great inner happiness to be able to respond to emergencies such as these. To do it on Tisha B’Av made these calls even more special.”

 

Peretz echoed his sentiment and said: “To help people in such a manner is something that is really special. As a woman, to be able to be there for another woman and support her through this very trying process is something that to me will always be special. The family that is the volunteers of United Hatzalah, even though many of them here in Beit Shemesh are Ultra-Orthodox, have accepted me with open arms without any trace of resentment because I am a woman. I want to share the special care that I can give to the patients that I treat and in these instances being a first responder who is a woman is an added bonus for the patient. It was a very moving and meaningful Tisha B’Av for me this year, I hope future ones just get better.” 

 

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More Than Just A Winch

Menachem Goldberg volunteers as an EMT with United Hatzalah and serves as the chapter head for the Nahariya chapter. Two weeks ago, Goldberg responded to an emergency where the rescue he undertook involved a different type of lifesaving. 

Goldberg riding the ATV on the beach in Nahariya

 

The incident occurred near the city’s beaches in the early afternoon, when one alert beach-goer noticed two figures flailing about in the water. Realizing that the dark shapes were two women in distress, the alarmed man urgently called for emergency help. Menachem received the alert from United Hatzalah’s Dispatch and Command Center and immediately dashed out to the ATV that the organization stationed in the city specifically for beach and off-road rescues. Goldberg hit the gas and raced along the city streets and then directly onto the beach sands heading right up to the water.

 

As other United Hatzalah volunteers began to arrive they joined Goldberg and worked feverishly to rescue the two victims. The assembled team quickly attached lifebelts to the electric winch on the ATV and sent the cable over to the struggling figures. The two women managed to grab onto the lifebelt and Goldberg slowly guided the cable back to dry land. Within a few minutes, the volunteers succeeded in rescuing both victims from the sea.

 

The two young women had been floundering in the water for over 40 minutes. They were absolutely exhausted and dangerously hypothermic. Goldberg quickly wrapped them up in mylar reflective blankets to conserve body heat. He then performed a quick but thorough assessment while getting them onto the ATV. The powerful vehicle sped back along the sand to the road, where an ambulance was waiting to facilitate transport to the hospital.

 

These people were saved from certain death thanks to the rapid response, made possible by United Hatzalah’s network of volunteers and the ATV they had at their disposal.

 

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Fighting Fire With More Than EMS

United Hatzalah’s network of first responders provides more than emergency medical services (EMS). While the EMS component of the organization is certainly the flagship project, another service which the organization provides for free is the work of the PSychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit made up of psychologists, therapists, and social workers who volunteer their time to provide emotional and psychological stabilization to people affected by a traumatic situation. Whether those people are the victims themselves, or the family or friends of the victims, or simply bystanders who are suffering emotional distress after having witnessed the traumatic incident, the Psychotrauma unit assists them in processing and coping with the experience so that they can return to their normal level of functioning and hopefully avoid the onset of ASR, ASR and PTSD.

EMTs at the scene of the fire

One such incident occurred not long ago in Jerusalem after a fire broke out in a hotel in the city late one night. The incident occurred just after 2 A.M.

United Hatzalah volunteer EMTs were on location assisting panicked tourists in escaping the flames, treating the injured parties, supplying them with oxygen and rapidly loading them into ambulances to be rushed to the hospital. The EMTs on scene urgently requested crisis support for traumatized survivors of the inferno. Alon Bruckstein, an advanced level Psychotrauma Unit responder received the call and left his warm bed to rush over to the given address.

He found multiple victims suffering from the onset of an emotional stress reaction, among them young children and the elderly. The patients were stranded outside in the cold without proper clothing or cellphones. Additional Psychotrauma responders arrived on scene to assist. The team distributed blankets to survivors and provided critical emotional support to families. Once the people at the scene were stabilized and their needs were seen to, Bruckstein and other team members headed over to the Bikur Cholim Hospital.

At the hospital, the team worked with nurses on staff to provide those who came from the fire with warm clothing, blankets, food, and water. Bruckstein and his colleagues sat with survivors, jotting down needs and assisting families with their concerns. There were few remaining beds at the hospital to manage the influx of patients; the volunteers contacted the sister hospital in the Shaare Zedek network to ensure that they had space, then ordered taxis to transport those still in need of in-patient care to the second hospital. Among the tasks undertaken by the volunteers for the Psychotrauma Unit were locating and bringing toys for smaller children to comfort them and helped locate a Dutch child who had been separated from his parents.

Members of the Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit at the hospital helping patients

Once they received the “all clear” from rescue workers, Bruckstein and others headed back to the fire scene. Brucktsein found a few agitated guests still on location outside the hotel, struggling to find their personal effects and documentation. Bruckstein helped one young woman with breathing exercises and guided relaxation techniques, as she was suffering from a severe panic attack. Thanks to his warm presence and skillful intervention, the patient’s condition soon stabilized. 

Throughout the evening, Bruckstein and the rest of the team listened to the survivors with kindness and empathy, providing psychological, practical, and logistical assistance.

 

“Our job is to help those experiencing a traumatic situation process it and return to the present moment as soon as possible so that they can effectively function and cope with their tragedy” said Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit Director Avi Tenenbaum. “Our volunteers are specially trained to assess and recognize anyone at the scene of a traumatic incident who is having an emotional stress reaction and to provide immediate treatment and intervention for that person. We do this because we believe it’s the right thing to do and humane to help others in their darkest hour. Second, our hope is to help the patient avoid the development of an emotional stress reaction which, if left untreated, can develop into an emotional stress disorder and if unchecked can later develop into PTSD.”

 

The Psychotrauma Unit has been active across Israel for the past three years and has treated countless people at the scenes of sudden infant death, suicides, major car accidents, terror attacks, and as part of international humanitarian aid missions. It is the first fully-integrated psychological first aid program that is dispatched together with first responders anywhere in the world.

 

To help support the work of the Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit please click here

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Recovering Woman Meets With First Responders Who Saved Her Life During the Last Round of Rocket Attacks

Allegra Ben Akan a resident of Kiryat Gat suffered a full system trauma injury from a rocket that was fired by Hamas militants at Israel during the last round of missile attacks from the Gaza Strip. On Thursday, she met the EMTs who were the first responders at the scene, provided her with medical treatment, and saved her life.

Allegra meeting with Assoulin (Center) and Weinberg (Right)

Allegra underwent three months of treatments and rehabilitation following the injury. She then returned home where she requested to meet the volunteers who were the first to respond to the emergency and saved her life.

The incident took place on Shabbat afternoon when the warning siren sounded alerting residents of the city that rockets were headed in their direction. Allegra ran for shelter but did not make it to her safe room in time. She was on the way home when the rocket struck near her location on Malchei Yisrael Street. The shockwave and shrapnel from the rocket caused her injuries and she was listed as being in critical condition.

United Hatzalah Volunteer EMTs Yankee Weinberg and Itzik Assoulin who live nearby were the first responders at the scene that day and immediately began treating Allegra for her injuries. The first ambulance on the scene arrived a number of minutes after the two had begun treating Allegra’s wounds and quickly transported her to the hospital.

“We were proud to be able to help Allegra in her time of need,” said Weinberg who runs the United Hatzalah chapter of Kiryat Gat. “We came to help her but it was really from heaven that we were in the area when the missile attack occurred and that we were able to save her life. So many things could have happened that would have made this situation end differently. Thank God you are alive and recuperating now.,” He told Allegra. “Seeing how Allegra has recovered thus far and knowing that she is on the road to a full recovery makes us ecstatic and gives us the strength to keep on responding to emergencies time and again.”

“I am shocked to know what you went through to save me,” Allegra told the responders during the meeting. “I didn’t think that I was going to live. I want to thank you but I don’t know how to thank you. I am happy that I can see my children and grandchildren again. I don’t know how to thank you.”

Weinberg answered her and told her that “Our thanks is seeing you here today alive.”

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Wave Of Thefts Targets United Hatzalah Emergency Response Electric Bicycles In Netanya

 A wave of thefts and vandalism of emergency medical service electric bicycles belonging to EMS volunteers of United Hatzalah has plagued the city of Netanya over the past few weeks. The newest theft occurred yesterday when an emergency electric bicycle was stolen from the home of volunteer EMT Moshe Reich, one of the most active responders in his section of the city. Additionally, another emergency electric bike was found vandalized.

The Medical gear and box found a few streets away from Reich’s home

The new wave of theft and vandalism comes after last month’s theft of a bicycle wheel from one of the e-bikes in the city.

Reich who has been a volunteer responder for many years and has been riding the e-bike for the past two years on all of the emergency calls that he responds to was saddened by this new theft. “I use this electric bicycle to save lives. No people will need to wait longer for an emergency responder to arrive and that may cost lives. It is terrible that someone would want to do this.”

Reich is one of 100 United Hatzalah volunteer first responders who serve in the city and the surrounding area. The goal of the volunteers is to arrive at the scene of a medical emergency as fast as possible and provide emergency medical care until an ambulance can arrive. As many areas of the city have significant traffic problems, the e-bikes have been found to arrive much faster than an ambulance, and even faster than volunteers in cars on many occasions.

Reich was shocked to walk downstairs to the street outside his house on Sunday morning and see that his e-bike was stolen from the storage shed that he keeps it locked up in. The medical equipment that was inside the large box on the back of the bicycle, Reich found a few streets away from his house scattered across the ground.

“I came downstairs in the morning to take my bicycle out of the shed and was surprised and dismayed to see that the bicycle was gone. I was very saddened to see this. I reported the incident to the police and I sincerely hope that the electric bicycle will be found and quickly so that I can get back out on the street and continue saving lives and helping people,” said Reich.

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United Hatzalah Mourns the Loss of Mrs. Adelaide Friedman

United Hatzalah mourns the loss of Mrs. Adelaide Friedman, Mother of United States Ambassador to Israel Mr. David Friedman. Our heartfelt condolences go out to the Ambassador and his wife Tammy, His brother Mark and his wife Rosa, and their entire family.

President and Founder of United Hatzalah, Eli Beer, who has been a longtime friend of Mr. Friedman said: “Adelaide was a strong supporter of Israel in many ways. She conveyed both her passion and love for the United States and for Israel to her sons David and Mark. It is displayed in all of the good works that each of them does, and of course in the efforts that David puts forth behalf of both countries. She will truly be missed. David, rest assured that all of our volunteers mourn with you and your family and wish that you find comfort in the loving memory of your mother.”

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One Active Friday

Ram Oz is a 2-meter-tall combat veteran and extreme-sport enthusiast from Hod Hasharon who volunteers as a United Hatzalah EMT and drives one of the organization’s ambucycles. 

 

Recently this past Friday night, Ram responded to a stabbing incident. He zoomed over to the location on his ambucycle and saw that the attacker was a psychiatric patient who had stabbed himself in the abdomen. Ram secured the weapon and with remarkable gentleness bandaged the troubled man’s wound, stopping the bleeding and stabilizing the patient. Police officers and an ambulance then arrived on scene. Ram assisted as the victim was placed inside the ambulance to be taken to the hospital for medical and psychiatric follow-up.

 

Ram and his ambucycle

At another call on Friday night, Ram and his wife were out at a restaurant when Ram received the alert that a man was speeding on his electric bicycle along a darkened road when he lost control and crashed. Two boys who witnessed the crash called for help.  Already familiar with the alerts and her husband’s activities, Ram and his wife quickly dashed out of the restaurant, slipping some money to the waiter to cover the meal. Ram and his wife hopped on his ambucycle and powered down the street, racing to the accident. They soon arrived at the location, but it was dark and the street appeared to be empty. Ram then saw two boys waving him over to a ditch at the side of the road. He pulled up and shone his ambucycle’s beams towards the ditch. He saw the 30-year-old victim lying partially obscured by shadows, and despite the darkness, the United Hatzalah medic saw the extent of the man’s head injury. Ram asked his wife to keep the youths away from the grisly sight as he quickly opened the medical kit on his ambucycle and stepped down into the ditch to begin treatment.

 

The rider was unconscious and had not been wearing a helmet. He sustained multiple wounds all over his body and a traumatic large gash to his head. Ram expertly affixed a neck brace and then grabbed his ambucycle’s IV kit and used the sterile saline solution to cleanse the victim’s head wound, rinsing away the dirt before tightly bandaging it. Ram then stabilized the victim, mindful that during the entire time his wife was keeping the youths away and diverting their attention. An ambulance arrived, and Ram assisted as the victim was immobilized on a backboard and transferred inside to be transported to the hospital. He then returned to his wife and the teens, thanking everyone for their appropriate response during a tense call.

 

This brave and dedicated volunteer saves lives whenever and wherever needed.

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Rescuer of The People

About a month ago, a cement truck overturned on the Nachal Tzeilim roadway near the entrance to Ramat Beit Shemesh Gimmel. United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Avraham Levinger raced over on his ambucycle and began initial treatment and assessment for the wounded 35-year-old driver. A United Hatzalah ambulance crew arrived and in the shortest possible time the man was treated and prepped for transport.

 

Avraham next to his ambucycle

Just last Tuesday, also in Beit Shemesh, a factory worker was in an acoustic ceiling crawl space when the material gave way beneath him and he fell to the floor below. Avarham immediately sped to the scene. The 38-year-old man had landed on his back and suffered a sharp blow to his head. He was in such excruciating pain that he was beginning to lose focus. Another volunteer joined Avraham at the factory as well as a responding ambulance crew. The team carefully immobilized the man, placed him on a stretcher and transferred him into the ambulance for transport.

 

A short while later, Avraham was alerted to a severe accident on the highway and quickly hopped back on his ambucycle. It was late afternoon and the roads were filled with the usual rush-hour traffic, but his nimble vehicle enabled him to whizz around the heavy congestion.  Avraham was the first responder to arrive on scene and was met by a frightening sight. A bus had crashed into an electricity pylon and the huge tower had collapsed onto the vehicle! There was a very real danger of electrocution as the pylon emitted flashes and minor explosions. The United Hatzalah medic distanced onlookers, ensuring scene safety until police and fire departments arrived. The bus thankfully had no passengers and the driver managed to escape without injury.

 

Later that same evening, Avraham was working nonstop due to the massive Ethiopian protests going on in the area.  Many people trapped in their standstill vehicles began to feel ill from lack of water and stress. Elderly people and children were particularly vulnerable. Avraham responded to a convulsing baby and another child who had fainted. He also used his ambucycle to race to the scene when protesters sprayed tear gas right into a full intercity bus. An elderly couple was so badly affected that they began to lose consciousness. Avraham helped the couple out into the fresh air and monitored their condition until their breathing normalized.

 

Wherever and whenever someone needs help, if Avraham is nearby he will rush out to provide whatever assistance he can.

 

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Interrupting Prayers To Save A Choking Infant

United Hatzalah volunteer Yisrael Shavit saved a young girl in Hadera from choking on Sunday evening. After arriving in less than a minute at the scene of the incident, Shavit managed to single-handedly treat and rescue an infant from what could have been her death.

Yisrael Sharvit

Shavit described the dramatic story. “I was davening Mincha at Shul and I received an alert on my bluebird radio from dispatch. The alert said that a young toddler, about six-months-old was choking right near my location. I raced to my ambucycle and jumped on and rushed to the address. I saw a group of people standing around two parents who were holding their child in front of them. The father was slapping an infant girl on the back. I asked to take the child. She was making choking noises which meant that her airway was partially blocked. She had started to turn blue.

I looked inside her mouth and saw a small edge of what looked to be a bit of plastic stuck in her trachea. When I slapped her back, a bit more popped up. I stuck my finger in her mouth and after a few tries, was able to grab hold of and remove the plastic. It was a wrapper from an ice pop. Once the blockage was removed the child once again began crying.

The girl’s parents were so thankful for my quick arrival and successful assistance that they kissed me on the forehead in the middle of the street just as other EMS volunteers began arriving.

It was a few minutes before the ambulance came, they had a very healthy and stable patient who was taken to the hospital for follow-up care.

I’ve been at choking calls before but usually, you arrive after the person has choked and you need to do CPR. This is the first time I was able to arrive while it was still happening. I am happy that I was able to help and that I was a messenger of salvation in this instance. This is why I joined United Hatzalah. It is the reason the organization exists and why all of the volunteers do what we do.”

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An Inspiring Story from the Ethiopian Protests

A lot of news sources reported on the violence and the traffic that transpired during the Ethiopian protests across Israel yesterday. The protests caused a lot of difficulty for many people around the country as major thoroughfares were blocked by protesters who wanted their voices heard. Some of the protests turned violent with damage being done to police and EMS vehicles. Others, like the one near Beit Shemesh on Highway 38 remained non-violent. It was during this protest and the traffic problems that resulted that two inspiring stories depicting the kindness of our society transpired.

The groom (Center) with Tzachi Buchbot (far right) Itamar Amsalem (2nd from right) another United Hatzalah volunteer (left) who assisted in bringing the couple and their guests to the wedding

Motorists on Highway 38 waited for close to six hours without moving. Most turned off their cars to save gasoline. And while the wait was annoying and inconvenient for some, for others it almost turned into a catastrophic tragedy.
One family who was stuck in traffic on Highway 38 had three children in the back of their car and had run out of water and food. The two older children in the back seat were complaining that they were thirsty for a long time. In addition, the family had a 5-month-old infant with a heart murmur who desperately needed her medication and formula as she had not eaten for many hours. As the hours ticked by, the parents began to panic. Seeing no end in sight to the protest or the resulting traffic jam, the parents called United Hatzalah’s Dispatch and Command center requesting help.
The volunteer who answered the phone set in motion a series of events that brought relief to the family within minutes. United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Shlomi Polishuk in Beit Shemesh who lives near the intersection with Highway 38, was called and instructed to prepare a package of water, medicine, formula, and food. Polishuk quickly gathered the required items and headed out to the area closest to the protest that he could arrive at by car. While that was happening, the dispatch center contacted EMT ambucycle driver Tzachi Buchbot who also lives in Beit Shemesh but was assisting people stuck in the traffic and told him to meet Polishuk at the specified location. Buchbot raced over to the meeting point took the package and then brought it to the family in need at no charge. He gave the thankful parents his personal cell phone number and told them that if they needed anything else they should not hesitate to call.
Buchbot then proceeded to weave through the crowd to see if anyone else needed assistance. After just a few moments he was flagged down by a man who was looking forlorn and desperate. “My Fiance and I are late for our own wedding,” explained the man. “Our Chuppah was supposed to have been more than 2 hours ago,” he told Buchbot.
Buchbot, called United Hatzalah EMT Itamar Amsalem who drives one of the organization’s ATVs that is located in Beit Shemesh. He sent his location via WhatsApp and a few minutes later, Amsalem arrived with his ATV and took the couple via off-road paths to the wedding hall.  When the couple arrived at the hall they saw that it was empty. Their guests were also all stuck in the traffic. Amsalem left the couple to prepare and headed back to the traffic jam. together with Buchbot and other ambucycle volunteers, they went car to car asking people if they were guests of the wedding and transporting them in small groups with the ATV to the wedding hall. The Chuppah started just before midnight.

Scene of the Chuppah just before midnight

In an interview with Israeli news reporters from Yediot Acharonot, the groom said: “This wasn’t an easy night by any means. My wife was crying the entire time. I don’t wish this on anyone on their wedding day. While I don’t blame the Ethiopians for protesting, I believe that more could have been done by the police to control the situation and allow people to pass.”
“When you come down to it, we are all family,” said Buchbot after the incident. “I am here tonight to help others. I volunteer and help others all the time, today was just a different style of help. I am happy to do it and I am glad that I can be a small part of an organization who is dedicated to doing exactly this, without worrying about cost or reimbursement. When people need help, we are there to help them.”
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