Earlier this week on a Wednesday night, just after 9 p.m. United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Chani Vaknin, was returning from her nightly run, when a neighbor approached her, just as she was walking into her apartment building. He told her that a middle-aged-man had collapsed just two floors above them.
Despite not having her medical equipment with her, and being caught off guard, Chani continued running straight to the man’s apartment. The experienced EMT found the man lying unconscious on his couch and recalled that this man had been in the elevator with her, just three hours earlier.
Chani checked for a pulse but couldn’t find one. She began chest compressions and alerted United Hatzalah’s Dispatch and Command Center that she was undertaking CPR while requesting backup. In less than a minute, a United Hatzalah volunteer, who happened to be nearby, arrived at the apartment with his equipment. He attached a defibrillator and helped Chani with chest compressions. The team alternated between administering compressions and providing assisted breathing using the oxygen tank brought by the EMT.
After a few minutes of CPR, the defibrillator advised that a shock be given to the patient. Chani and her fellow EMT proceeded to give the man an electric shock. Chani, together with the other EMS personnel who arrived, was able to stabilize the man’s condition. Once he was stabilized the man was taken downstairs to a waiting ambulance and transported to Kaplan hospital in Rehovot.
A similar incident happened a few years ago, in the local corner store where Chani works. A child started to choke on a candy that he was eating. Chani was likewise taken by surprise by the sudden emergency developing right before her eyes. Her training kicked in, and Chani acted quickly by administering the Heimlich Maneuver causing the child to expel the piece of candy that he was choking on.
“I often get a rush of adrenalin, when I’m in situations that surprise me and that require me to act quickly,” Chani said. “Medical emergencies take place in a matter of seconds. A patient can go from healthy to being on death’s doorstep in mere moments and there’s no time to think. You just have to react. Thankfully, I was well trained. So now, even when a medical emergency catches me off guard and I am totally surprised, I am still prepared mentally to react and save a life.”
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