95-year-old Ofakim woman choked at a family Chanukah party, saved by her own grandson

On Monday evening, Rafael Ifergan, a United Hatzalah EMT, was at a family Hanukkah party with his family when suddenly family members called him over for help. Rafael rushed over and found his 95-year-old grandmother pale and choking on some of the food that she just ate.

United Hatzalah volunteers responding to an emergency at night (illustration)

Rafael’s grandmother suffered from a completely blocked airway and the experienced EMT immediately started performing the Heimlich Maneuver on her. Rafael simultaneously instructed one of his family members to get the medical kit from his car and another to call for medical services and ask for a mobile intensive care ambulance. Rafael’s grandmother was unable to stand on her own so he enlisted the help of two other family members to hold her in a standing position while he administered the Heimlich Maneuver in the hopes of dislodging the food. After repeated abdominal thrusts, Rafael succeeded at dislodging the food which flew out of his grandmother’s mouth.

Now able to breathe, the older woman’s condition stabilized just as additional United Hatzalah EMTs arrived at the scene and helped Rafael treat his grandmother. Rafael checked her saturation levels and provided her with high-flow oxygen. When the mobile intensive care ambulance arrived a few minutes later Rafael’s grandmother was transported to a nearby hospital for continued checkups and observation, but the danger had passed.

Rafael recounted after the incident; “It is always amazing to save a person’s life as an EMT. This is even more true when the person is my own grandmother. Being an EMT gives me immense satisfaction, to be able to save people’s lives is to fulfill one of the biggest mitzvahs (commandments) that exist. United Hatzalah is my second family and today the training I received there helped me save someone from my first family.’’

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