Miri Shvimmer and Lior Eskenasy are an engaged couple who both live in Holon and are both United Hatzalah volunteer responders. In fact, they often ride to emergencies together on Lior’s ambucycle. “Whenever there are calls that need ALS we go out together,” Shvimmer said as she smiled. “I keep the ALS equipment from my bag in his ambucycle, so that wherever we go we have a full complement of medical supplies with us.”
Last Thursday, Shvimmer, a paramedic, was returning from vacation with her mother and had just arrived home from the airport when Lior picked her up. As soon as the two were together, they were notified about a medical emergency occurring in their vicinity. A man had suffered a heart attack and collapsed in the middle of the street in Holon. The pair rushed over, began CPR and administered 3 shocks from a defibrillator. After a lengthy process, they succeeded at regaining the man’s pulse. They then assisted the ambulance team in loading the patient for transport to Wolfson hospital.
On Friday, the couple was called on again to assist in two more emergencies. An 80-year-old man had drowned in a pool at the country club in Holon. Eskenasy and Shvimmer again raced to the scene and succeeded in reviving the man and helping him expunge the pool of water that had settled in his lungs. He too was taken to the hospital in serious but stable condition.
From that emergency, they rushed to another emergency in Holon, in which a man was suffering from a severe case of hypoglycemia and had fallen unconscious. After administering glucose and assisting the ambulance team to transport the patient, the couple finally got some time to spend with each other, before having to return to their other responsibilities.
“Going out to calls with a life partner gives us a sense of completion. We work together in creating a relationship and we build on that together when we save lives as a unit. If we go out on a really hard call, such as saving a child who was hit by a car or a family that was caught in a fire, we share it together and we can have each other’s backs at the scene. We are also there to support each other emotionally when we need it after tough calls,” Shvimmer said.
Eskenasy said that all responders are thankful for the special items that they carry with them that save lives. “Some responders have EpiPens, others have defibrillators, and I have Miri. She saves people’s lives all the time and I take her with me wherever I go. So I have to marry her.”
Three weeks ago, we had a case of a man who was in his 30’s, and after having a fight with his wife, he hung himself in his own home. His wife had cut him down just before we arrived. We treated him and succeeded at reviving him. A few days later he was sent home from the hospital. For us, that was a call that left an impression. Here we were, a couple saving the life of not just a man, but of another couple for whom things had gone terribly wrong. At the worst moment of their lives, we were there to help and for us, that meant a lot.”
Eskenasy said that both he and Miri also respond on their own, but when they are together the help that they can provide is compounded. “I go to emergencies on my own when Miri is busy or is not around. But it is so much easier when she is around as we automatically become an ALS team and she is able to treat one aspect and I can treat another. Working as a team really increases the chances of us successfully treating the patient in the field. Miri is a really good person who is pleasant to everyone and knows all of the protocols by heart. She is a paramedic par excellence and is also a nurse. When she is in the field, people know her and listen to her and that makes all of the incidents run far more smoothly.”