At around 1:30 p.m. on Monday afternoon, a 4-year-old boy was swimming in a pool in Pardes Chana when he suddenly suffered a seizure and began to consume a lot of water, causing him to start drowning. The people around the boy started screaming in panic and hysteria because the boy was unresponsive. They didn’t understand what was happening to him. The lifeguard on duty saw the boy and called emergency services, telling them a boy had drowned and he needed help. He then dove into the pool to save the boy from drowning. The lifeguard swam to the edge of the pool with the boy in his arms and started performing CPR there.
United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Aviad Kaatabi was enjoying ice cream with his kids at an ice cream parlor in a shopping complex nearby. He received an alert about the drowning boy in a pool. He glanced at the address and realized it was just down the street from where he was sitting. Aviad immediately stood and quickly told his children that he was going to save a 4-year-old boy and would return momentarily. The children were content with their ice cream and understanding of the amazing things their father does, so they waited willingly.
Aviad arrived within 30 seconds of receiving the call and watched as the lifeguard tried to revive the boy with CPR. The EMT jumped into the pool fully clothed; nothing could stop him from saving the boy. He carried him out of the pool, brought him over to a picnic table, and laid him on top. The boy’s vital signs weren’t good. He wasn’t breathing and only managed to sustain a weak pulse. The EMT saw no evidence of water flooding the boy’s lungs and understood that the boy had not drowned, in contrast to what the passersby had thought. This boy suffered from a seizure in the pool and swallowed large amounts of water in the process. Aviad pressed on the boy’s stomach to trigger reflux, to which the boy started puking out the water he swallowed in the pool along with the contents of his stomach.
By this time, other United Hatzalah volunteers had arrived to help Aviad treat the patient who was still unresponsive and completely unconscious, in spite of his eyes being wide open. The EMTs repeatedly checked the oxygen levels in his bloodstream and his other vitals. They provided him with a steady flow of oxygen as his breathing was slowly restored and his pulse strengthened. As the EMTs waited for the intensive care ambulance to arrive, they cleaned the boy up from whatever he had thrown up and got him ready for transport.
Aviad spoke to the boy’s mother and reassured her that her son was going to be okay. “EMTs have a lot of psychological responsibility, as well as physical responsibility for the patient. The mother was obviously worried and disturbed by what was happening, so I reassured her that the boy was being treated and in good condition. I reassured her that her son would continue to get treatment in the hospital and that there really was nothing more to worry about.”
“I left that incident with my clothes sopping wet from jumping in the pool. It was funny for my kids to see me like that, but they were also proud of me for helping the boy, which was really nice.”
Later that day, Aviad visited the boy in the hospital after he had already undergone an assessment in the emergency room and received treatment. He said, “I was so happy to see that the boy was doing well and that the staff was confident that he would be released soon. He was still asthmatic, and it was still hard for him to breathe independently but thank G-d everything else was okay, and he is recovering well.”
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