Rushing Out To an Emergency At All Hours of The Day Or Night

Eran Moshe is one of United Hatzalah’s dedicated volunteers in the city of Sderot who provides emergency medical services to people both in the city and the surrounding region in the troubled Gaza periphery. Like all United Hatzalah volunteers, all of Eran’s work is done on a volunteer basis and is completely free of charge.

Bus accident

One recent afternoon, Eran was at his home in Sderot when he received an alert to a road accident at the entrance to the city. The devoted medic immediately dashed out of his house, jumped on his ambucycle and sped over to the location, arriving first on the scene.

Two cars had collided and both drivers were injured. Eran performed a rapid assessment and turned to the more seriously injured victim, a man in his sixties. He was in severe neck pain from the harsh impact and had sustained possible spinal injuries as well. The experienced medic worked quickly as he provided initial treatment, securing the man’s neck in a brace and stabilizing his condition. He then treated the other driver, a 40-year-old man who had also been injured in the collision. By the time an ambulance arrived ten minutes later, both patients were prepped and ready for transport to the hospital.

In another harrowing incident, a bus struck an 80-year-old woman by a bus stop. The bus jolted sharply to a halt as the woman fell to the ground and lay on the asphalt, groaning with pain, bleeding profusely. The alarmed passersby urgently called for help and Eran received the alert that went out from United Hatzalah dispatch center. The devoted medic immediately sped over to the location.

Eran found the elderly woman suffering from numerous wounds to her head and upper body. Additional responders arrived to help Eran as he worked at a feverish pace, stemming the bleeding and bandaging the wounds. The medics affixed a neck brace, immobilized the patient, and took a complete set of vital signs. An intensive care ambulance arrived and Eran helped the crew to place the patient safely inside for emergency evacuation to the trauma center.

Eran then cared for the traumatized bus passengers. One woman had sustained light injuries in the abrupt stop and she too received treatment. Everyone else, while shocked and concerned, had escaped injury. Eran stayed some time to reassure the agitated people before leaving the scene to return to his schedule.

Eran spoke a bit about what it means to be a volunteer with United Hatzalah. “It is absolutely amazing to volunteer for an organization like United Hatzalah. The people who do this work are terrific and everyone works together. All of the volunteers get everything we need to be able to go out and save a life when the emergency call comes in. We receive training, gear, and support from the organization and the dispatch center. It helps us keep up our morale when we have to rush out to emergency calls no matter what time of day or night. Even in the early hours of the morning. I am truly happy to be there for my community and be able to make a difference and I am happy that I do it with United Hatzalah.”   

 

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United Hatzalah’s Psychotrauma K-9 Unit Gets Big Push

United Hatzalah’s crew of canines which operates throughout Israel just got a big push from a dog-loving donor who saw the importance of the unit’s work at traumatic medical emergencies. The unit, which has been active for the past six months and has been newly named the Sylvia and Max Shulman K-9 Unit, has just received a very large donation to the tune of $150,000. The unit currently consists of three dogs, one in the north, one in Jerusalem and one in the south. These animals and their handlers respond to calls regionally whenever and wherever they are needed.

Lucy and Batya in the field responding to an emergency in Jerusalem

“The K-9 unit supports the work of the Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit,” said Psychotrauma Unit Director Avi Tennenbaum. We have a small team right now in strategic places in Israel and each of the dogs respond in their region working where they are needed most. Thanks to the support of a generous donor, we are now able to expand this unit and provide more coverage and more care to the people who need it.”

 

United Hatzalah’s Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit is now able to expand the K-9 project, which plays a significant role in providing emotional and psychological stabilization for people suffering emotional trauma due to experiencing a traumatic medical emergency.

 

“We have been looking to expand the K-9 Unit for some time now, and are overjoyed that we have found a donor who is interested in this project and wants to help us push it forward,” said Pyschotrauma and Crisis Response Unit Director Avi Tennenbaum.

 

The dogs have responded to building fires, searches for missing people, serious injuries, and major car accidents. “We look for the right type of situation where the dogs can add an extra level of care and treatment for the patients. Not all segments of Israel’s population react well when animals are near, so we are very careful as to which calls we send our dog unit members to. Our aim is always to make the patient feel more comfortable and empower them. In most cases, the dogs help us do that. They are brought in to assist in an emergency to help patients calm down, recover and cope with the incident that they just experienced,” Tennenbaum said.

 

The dogs and their handlers, usually their owners, undergo specialized training that enables the dogs to become therapy dogs. For one owner and handler, Batya Jaffe, who runs the K-9 unit, her course entailed an intensive three-year training course that enables her to train others to become therapy dogs and therapy dog handlers.

“One of the basic rules we learned in animal therapy is that animals don’t judge people. While some patients may be hesitant to talk with people, even therapists from our unit, that same hesitancy does not exist with Lucy, or with any of the dogs in our unit,” Jaffe said.

 

Over the next few months, the Psychotrauma Unit hopes to expand the number of dogs in service as well as the situations in which the dogs will be used. “One area in which we believe the dogs will be very useful in the future is with situational debriefings of our own volunteer responders who suffer trauma from witnessing the medical emergency that they responded to. EMS personnel are exposed to an incredible amount of trauma and one method we are employing to deal with that is by having debriefings. We believe that the dogs will be able to assist the first responders to process the incident that they just witnessed in a healthier manner.”  

 

Here a who’s who of the current dog squad:  

 

Lucy and Batya (Jerusalem/Center) – Lucy, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, a breed known around the world for excelling as therapy dogs, is part of the Psychotrauma Unit in Jerusalem, working with her owner and psychotrauma volunteer Batya Jaffe. Lucy has been incredibly useful in many cases where breaking the ice and connecting with patients quickly was important.  

Toffy and Ori (Tzefat/North) – Toffy, also a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, has gone through extensive training with her owner, Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Volunteer Ori Weiss. Weiss and Toffy live in the northern city of Tzefat (Safed) and have been responding to emergency calls that require an extra level of care for the past nine months.

Shekel and Netanel (Be’er Sheva/South) – Shekel is a mix between a cocker spaniel and a dachshund and has gone through training together with Netanel who is a licensed animal therapist. The pair have been volunteering in the Psychotrauma Unit for almost a year. Shekel’s most serious call occurred when he successfully brought a mother back to connectivity with the outside world after one of her children suddenly passed away. The mother had been in a state of shock so severe that she was completely unresponsive. Shekel went up to her and sat on her hands and slowly through connecting with the dog, the mother came back and began responding to her surroundings once again.

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In Winter Weather The Right Vehicle Saves The Day

One of the lesser-known vehicles that United Hatzalah uses to save lives is the ATV or All-Terrain-Vehicle. The organization has close to 40 of these vehicles distributed across the country in locations where there is a lot of need for them, either off-road or on beaches where other vehicles, including ambulances, have a lot of difficulty traveling.

One of the organizations ATVs was called upon during the harsh winter storms that struck Israel recently.  An adventurous family of five was driving in their jeep and attempting to navigate a shallow wadi (dry river bed) when a sudden downpour ensued. The rain resulted in a flash flood that caused the river to swell. The sudden rising water caused the jeep, with the family in it, to stall in the middle of the water. The family was trapped inside and could not exit the vehicle for fear of being swept away by the current. With the water level rising inside their vehicle, the father called for help.

The car that was swept away

As soon as the call came in, United Hatzalah EMT Raphael Elbaz raced over in the ATV that had been stationed near his house. Upon arriving at the scene, Elbaz called to the family using a megaphone from the ATV. He instructed them to climb onto the roof of their jeep. He then tossed them a rescue line and attached the other end to the ATV. By using the vehicle as an anchor, Elbaz together with the other gathered first responders who arrived, successfully pulled all five family members to safety. Elbaz helped the family into the ATV and brought them to a United Hatzalah ambulance that was waiting to transport them to the hospital. Two of the family members were suffering from hypothermia and were shaking from the cold. EMTs in the ambulance turned on the heat and wrapped them in reflective heat blankets and a second layer of warm rescue blankets. The ambulance team then took the family to the hospital for definitive care and observation.  

The rescue ATV enabled the volunteers to save this family when no other vehicles could.

The rescue team

 

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A Shabbat Search and Rescue Mission

On Shabbat (Saturday, March 2nd) during the stormy morning hours, United Hatzalah volunteers EMTs from Kiryat Gat and the surrounding region were asked by the Israeli Police to participate in the search for an older gentleman who had gone missing on Friday afternoon. It was believed that the man’s life was in danger due to prolonged exposure to the elements and his previous health status.  

 

The organization received permission from its Halachik Adviser Rabbi Naftali Halperin to send out a large number of volunteers to join in the search for the missing man who was a resident of Kiryat Gat.

Illustration: United Hatzalah vehicles participate in a training drill in the Kiryat Gat region (Photo was taken during a weekday)

The volunteers joined the police at their mobile command station which had been set up in the city’s police station. There they were divided up into teams and assigned search quadrants. The volunteers then spent the next number of hours searching through the city and the surrounding area, in the wind and rain in order to find and rescue the missing man. The organization utilized a variety of emergency vehicles from the city, as well as those brought in from the surrounding area including Gush Etzion and Beit Shemesh. Ambulances, ambucycles and all-terrain vehicles (ATV’s) were utilized where they could provide the most assistance.  

 

During the search and rescue operations, a call was received about a man who was laying on the ground on Malchei Yisrael street in the city. A United Hatzalah ambulance was dispatched together with the police and arrived together at the location. There they found the missing man who was fully conscious. He was suffering from a mild case of hypothermia. Together, the officers and EMTs put the man into the ambulance and dried him off from the rain and warmed him. While he was recuperating, the ambulance crew began checking his vital signs and performing medical tests in order to ascertain his level of health.

 

Director of Operations for the Kiryat Gat chapter of United Hatzalah said after Shabbat: “United Hatzalah’s network of volunteers is prepared to provide emergency medical response 24-hours-a-day. This work includes working on Shabbatot in accordance with the Halachik decisions made by United Hatzalah’s Halachik division. In a situation such as this one form today, where there is a very real threat to someone’s life, our volunteers answered the call immediately and left their homes and families on the day of rest to go search for a person in trouble. I was proud to hear that our volunteers, together with the police of Kiryat Gat found the missing person in stable condition. I want to thank the dozens of volunteers from the region and the neighboring regions of Beit Shemesh and Gush Etzion who participated in the search and gave of their time to assist in saving this man. Together, we prevented a tragedy today.”

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Saving Lives in Memory of My Brother

Beer Sheva resident Guy Yekutiel lost his brother four years ago in a tragic accident. Following the trauma of losing his beloved brother, Yekutiel began to volunteer as an emergency medical technician (EMT) with United Hatzalah in his hometown as well as in the rest of the northern Negev. Yekutiel explained that he is volunteering to honor the memory of his brother Omer, who was just 21 years old when he died. Omer had headed out to a pub to celebrate with his friends after being accepted to Sami Shamoon College of Engineering.

Guy Yekutiel

“Omer was on a different planet that night, he had ordered drinks for everyone in order to toast his new career path,” said Guy.

In spite of the joyous occasion that evening, Omer’s hopes were never fulfilled. “He was just ordering the drinks when all of a sudden, his friends heard a boom and then saw Omer collapsed on the floor. Those nearby called for emergency services to come and it took the first responders a number of long minutes to reach Omer,” Guy recounted.

During the wait, his friends rushed to help him. “No one in the pub knew what to do. Later, Omer was transported in an ambulance to Soroka hospital with what we found out later was a sudden cardiac arrest. When the ambulance arrived at the hospital it was too late for my brother.”

Guy said that after the family got up from sitting shiva (the traditional Jewish mourning period), he began to investigate what had happened as he hadn’t been present during the incident. “I found out that two EMTs arrived at the pub that night to help my brother and that they had received the information from the national ambulance service dispatch. They disregarded all of the telling signs that should have alerted them to my brother having a heart attack, and instead chose to transport him to the hospital without providing any initial treatment (according to the findings of the investigation conducted by the Health Ministry) that could have saved Omer’s life.”

When I found this our, I learned that anyone could have saved my brother’s life and prevented this crushing tragedy from affecting my family. If there had been someone who knew what they were doing at the scene, my brother might still have been with us,” Guy said.

In order to make sure that this didn’t happen to others, I began to investigate how I could get involved in emergency medical services, and I found United Hatzalah. Sometime later I took a course with the organization and now I have joined the network of lifesaving volunteers who receive the highest level of training and equipment from the organization enabling us to save lives. I serve the people in my community in Beer Sheva and assist anyone in my surroundings who is having a medical emergency.”

Guy works as part of the Ministry of Interior in the Negev and rushes out every day to save lives and provide medical care to those in need, all in an effort to prevent other families from going through the tragedy that he and his family experienced first hand.

“United Hatzalah gives me all the tools I need to save the lives of others and prevent similar things from happening to other families. I think that getting trained to be an EMT is something that every person should do and I invite the entire populace of Israel to undergo basic medical training so that they will know how to properly treat medical emergencies when they come across them. Even a basic course of four hours can help people provide the first response when confronting an emergency. It isn’t a big undertaking and it can save a life and the life of a family like mine.”

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Saving a Life on a Bicycle

In addition to using regulars cars, ambucycles, ATVs, and other vehicles, United Hatzalah first responders also use electric bicycles.  Elie Becher is one such electric bicycle rider. Through his own struggles with Crohn’s Disease, Elie was inspired to study medicine and help others. At the tender age of 20, he spends his days volunteering as a medic and working as a dispatcher at United Hatzalah’s Jerusalem headquarters.

This past Friday night, an elderly woman collapsed and lost consciousness after choking on something she ate. Elie was fast asleep when he awoke to the urgent call from United Hatzalah dispatch. Elie leaped out of bed, slipped on some shoes and dashed outside to his E-bike. He zoomed through the Bet Hakerem backstreets, arriving on location three-minutes later.

An ambucycle medic joined Elie at the scene to assist with rescue efforts. Hurrying inside, the pair found the 80-year-old patient unconscious, with no sign of breath or pulse. Elie and his colleague initiated emergency resuscitation protocol, interspersing chest compressions with assisted ventilations. A paramedic joined the United Hatzalah volunteers on location and focused on removing the foreign object, as the EMTs continued with CPR. Eventually, the combined team managed to secure a clear airway and restore a steady pulse. The elderly woman was loaded into an arriving ambulance and evacuated to the emergency room.

Starting comprehensive CPR and re-oxygenating blood flow so close to the moment of collapse was a critical factor in saving this woman’s life. Elie’s emergency rescue provided by a generous donor to United Hatzalah made Elie’s rapid intervention possible.

 

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The Parents Went to The Hospital, The EMTs Babysat Their Children

On Tuesday United Hatzalah volunteers Chezi Rosenbaum and Tom Elnadiv from Qiryat Malachi each received an alert to a medical emergency in their area. The alert would end up being a lot longer and more involved than their normal medical responses are.

chezi with the baby

Both volunteers dropped what they were doing and rushed out to provide medical assistance to the injured person. When they arrived at the address of the emergency, they found a woman who had badly sliced her finger in an electric food processor.

Chezi

“The woman’s finger was very badly cut,” said Chezi. ”We bandaged the finger and prepared her for transport to the hospital. She decided to head to the hospital with her husband but she had a problem. She told us that she was watching her own child as well as the child of a neighbor and that she couldn’t go to the hospital until the child’s mother came back to pick up the baby.”

 

Tom and Chezi looked at each other and knew that their service was not yet done for the night.  Chezi told the worried mother that she needed to head to the hospital right away, but she shouldn’t worry as he and Tom would stay to watch the children even offering to provide the baby with a bottle until its mother returned.  “We are all parents and we know how to watch children and give a bottle,” Chezi said as he reassured the mother.

Tom

After the incident, Chezi spoke about the extended call and said: “This incident isn’t so different from many other cases that I and other United Hatzalah responders receive. We rush to the scene to help people, and sometimes that includes going the extra mile beyond the medical treatment that we provide. It’s part of the job.”

 

Chezi has been volunteering with United Hatzalah as an EMT for two years he himself is married and a parent and he claims that he was raised to help others whenever he could.

“My mother was a woman of giving and kindness. She always raised me and my siblings to give to others and share acts of loving kindness with everyone. Today is the anniversary of her death and I as I reflect on the incident from earlier this week, I cannot help but recognize that a lot of what I do is inspired by her example.”  

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A Father and Son, Partners in Lifesaving

Eli and Nir Revel who reside in Mazkeret Batya have an interesting style of how they spend their father-son bonding time. The pair volunteer together with United Hatzalah as first responders and both are trained EMTs. They respond to emergency calls on their own, and whenever they are home together they rush out as a pair in order to save lives.  

Nir (Left) and Eli Revel

Nir, aged 26, was an army medic in the IDF. there he developed his love for saving lives and wanted to carry that forward when he finished his service and returned to civilian life. His passion for the field only increased when his father Eli, suffered a heart attack. Following the incident, which Eli survived, the pair decided to take an EMT training course with United Hatzalah.

 

“We decided to take the civilian EMT training course together as a bonding experience. There I got bitten by the lifesaving bug that is the world of emergency medicine,” said Nir.   

 

“We can’t begin to explain how good this has been for us as individuals or as a father and son,” Nir added. “It gives us so much. Not just from a mental or psychological health perspective, knowing that you can provide help during a crisis, but that fact that you can come prepared with the knowledge and tools that you need to be able to make a difference is incredibly powerful. It gives you a little bit more surety to go with in the world. You have the ability to go and give back to your community and your society and to make a difference.”

 

Eli and Nir live near one another and work near one another. Therefore, whenever there is an emergency in their vicinity, they are more often than not dispatched together. “About 60-70 percent of our the emergencies that we get dispatched to are members of our community whom we know one way or another, and we go together,” said Eli. “When people see a familiar face it tends to give them a sense of comfort knowing that they are in the hands of friends and neighbors.”

 

Eli added that ever since the pair became volunteers their entire lifestyle changed. “You live it, pretty much all the time. You even go to sleep with the idea that you could get woken up at any time and be asked to rush out and save a life, when you live like that the whole family is affected. So while it has certainly strengthened the bond between Nir and I it has also changed all of our lives since our radios are on 24/7.”

Nir added that in Mazkeret Batya, there is no ambulance dispatch station in the town so the ambulances occasionally take a long time to arrive and there is extra importance placed on the work of the volunteers. “Many times in our own neighborhood we are able to respond in less than two minutes. The intervening time, where a person is receiving treatment prior to the ambulance’s arrival is incredibly important. We work within the community and very often treat people we know. We don’t sit in a dispatch location and treat people who are distant from us, we treat those closest to us. Whoever is closest goes and that makes a difference.”

“Working together with my dad is something that strengthens our bond. No one’s relationship is similar to another person’s. But working together strengthens whatever relationship you do have.”

“I’m proud of my son,” Eli added. “Not only because he is my son, but because he is my partner in lifesaving.”  

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Lawyer Collapses on Way to Work Rescued By Volunteer EMTs

A week ago, an emergency call came in to United Hatzalah’s Dispatch center regarding a man in need of medical assistance on Hamgshimim Street in Petach Tikvah. United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Shimi Ezer from Elad, was the first responder to arrive at the scene. Shimi’s office is right near where the incident took place. Shimi saw a man in critical condition who was pulseless and not breathing.

The rescuers and the rescuee

Shimi immediately asked the organization’s dispatch center for backup and additional responders. He began CPR protocol as other volunteers from the surrounding area began to arrive.

 

Benzi Eisenman, Deputy Chief Paramedic of the organization was one of the other responders to arrive. “When I arrived at the scene a short time after receiving the alert about the incident, I was working together with other EMS personnel at the scene and providing advanced life support to the unconscious individual that included electrical shocks from a defibrillator (AED), intravenous medical intervention, and assisted breathing through intubation. We worked tirelessly until the man’s pulse and breathing returned and then we transported him via ambulance to the hospital.”

 

A few days later, Attorney Shai Jaskin woke up in the hospital. After hearing the story of his survival from his physicians, Jaskin wanted to thank the volunteers of United Hatzalah who responded so quickly and saved his life. Upon hearing of the invitation, the first responders came to the hospital to visit Jaskin.

 

“I wish to thank all of the EMS volunteers of United Hatzalah who saved my life,” Jaskin told reporters. “I am feeling overwhelmed with joy and I will now begin celebrating two birthdays in years to come.”

 

Chapter head of United Hatzalah in Petach Tikvah Avi Meirah summarized the incident by saying: “There is no doubt that Jaskin’s life was saved that day due to the quick response of the volunteers at the scene. The quality care he received in the time when he received it was thanks to our volunteers receiving the emergency alert in a timely fashion and rushing to Jaskin’s aid. Stories like this, and the hundreds of other rescues that our volunteers do on a daily basis is why we are here.”   

 

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Saving Lives in Unexpected Ways

Yechiel Gurfein continues his amazing work as a United Hatzalah volunteer, saving lives with his emergency electric bicycle. Sometimes, Yechiel saves lives in unexpected ways.

Yechiel on his electric bike

Recently, Yechiel was staying at a friend’s home in the central Nachlaot neighborhood of Jerusalem. At 5:15 a.m. he awoke to the shrill sound of a terrified neighbor screaming. Yechiel jumped out of bed and called 1221 (the United Hatzalah hotline) for back-up and raced upstairs to the home of a neighbor where he heard the screaming coming from. It was a woman’s home.

Thick smoke was filling the hallways. The neighbor stood in her apartment frozen in panic, as huge flames leaped up from her electrical outlet. Yechiel roused sleeping family members (9 residents total, including 4 vulnerable children) and helped them make their escape. The United Hatzalah medic then caught an aspiring good samaritan just as they were about to splash a bucket of water on the circuit breaker, potentially making matters far worse. Using household items such as towels, Yechiel and the other man managed to safely snuff out the fire.

Frightened family members (wearing only pajamas) had escaped the smoke and flames thanks to Yechiel but were now shivering in the freezing pre-dawn temperatures. The United Hatzalah EMT quickly grabbed blankets to warm them, reassuring both children and grown-ups alike as he assessed them for smoke inhalation. By the time the firefighters arrived, all that remained was to double-check the apartment and ensure scene safety.

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