A Mid-Air Rescue In the Time of Corona

This past Sunday night, United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Moshe Weitzman, who lives in Ashdod, was flying back to Israel from London via Istanbul and responded to a medical emergency a few rows back from his seat on the plane. Moshe quickly intervened and assisted the woman who was having difficulty breathing. 

Moshe Weizman on the plane

“As there were no direct flights from London to Israel, I flew on Pegasus via Istanbul on my way back home. I already had corona in the past, so flying for me isn’t a problem and I’m not worried about catching the diseases again so soon after I recovered from it. So I took some time to go visit my brother in London as part of a family visit.  

“During the flight, I was sitting in my seat and watching a movie. I heard that someone was asking for a doctor. I thought it was from the movie. But just to make sure I pulled out my earphones and I heard the request for a doctor again. I got out of my seat and I saw a commotion a few rows back. The plane was full and a lot of people, including the flight crew, were standing around a woman who was having a medical emergency,” Moshe recounted. 

Moshe went up to the staff and introduced himself as an EMT and quickly took charge of the situation. He asked the woman questions in an attempt to take an oral history, but she did not understand English and couldn’t respond. Moshe asked if anyone knew how to interpret from English to Turkish and another woman came over. Via the interpreter, Moshe managed to take an oral history and applied an oxygen mask that one of the flight crew had brought him. He quickly instructed the woman to take deep and slow breaths in order to try to control her breathing. As he got to work the crowd of onlookers and flight crew visibly relaxed knowing that the woman was in good hands. 

Moshe was able to diagnose the woman with a severe case of hyperventilation and was able to get her to control her breathing. “After a few minutes, the woman came back to herself and begun functioning normally once again. I was asked by the flight crew if we needed o land the plane and told them that there was no need and that everything was under control.” 

Moshe back in Israel

Moshe sat next to the woman for the remainder of the flight in order to make sure that her situation remained stable. When the flight finally landed in Istanbul, both the woman and the flight crew were incredibly thankful to Moshe for his assistance. ”People kept asking me if there was anything to be worried about in terms of Corona. I reassured everyone that there was nothing to worry about and I kept the oxygen mask over the woman’s face just to help calm everyone’s nerves with regard to not even allowing for the possibility of spreading the disease.”  

 

“It was incredible to see how frantic people were over this woman’s wellbeing. It shows how much everyone cares about one another, no matter who we are or where we are from. Everyone wanted to help but no one knew exactly what to do. When I stood up and introduced myself as an EMT with United Hatzalah people visibly relaxed knowing that the woman would be taken care of. I had my Bluebird communication device on me because I am in charge of the vehicle division of all of southern Israel, so even when I’m abroad I have to stay in touch with the volunteers and facilitate solutions to a lot of transportation problems for the volunteers at all hours of the day. The people on the plane saw my radio and that helped them to relax as well. It served as a symbol of professionalism I guess. Seeing the calm return once I took charge, and helping this woman return to herself after her inability to breathe properly, gave me a sense of satisfaction knowing that I was able to help this woman. This was my first rescue onboard a plane, and I hope I won’t have to do that again. But if there is a need, I’m always ready and willing to help.” 

 

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