On Wednesday afternoon at around 4:30 p.m., a three-car accident occurred on Highway 90 near the Dead Sea chemical factories. In the accident, one car was completely overturned and 5 people sustained injuries.
Emergency services were called and United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Zohar Hekal, who was one of the closest first responders to the scene, was notified about the accident. Zohar is a bus driver for the Egged bus company and was driving along the route from Eilat to Jerusalem. He quickly made an announcement that an accident had occurred and asked the 50 or so passengers riding with him if they mind waiting as he treated the wounded. No one protested, so Zohar went on his way and headed toward the scene of the accident.
“The accident was really in the middle of nowhere, between the Dead Sea and the chemical factories, but luckily I happened to be driving near there at the right time and was able to help,” Zohar said. “I knew there wouldn’t be many other first responders near the scene so it was hard for me to ignore the situation and continue the other way. I made a right turn instead of a left, where most people were heading in order to avoid the incident, and we arrived there in under 5 minutes.”
As his passengers watched, Zohar parked the bus on the side of the road, threw on his bright orange United Hatzalah vest, and got to work. He surveyed the scene and found a man with the words “qualified nurse” on his shirt. A fireman from a nearby town was also at the scene with his small fire truck. Zohar ran over to them and together they came up with a plan to triage and assess the patients.
The three men started by rescuing three victims from inside the flipped car. It took them almost half an hour to free all of them. The patients were all in serious condition, one of them even was unconscious. The patient in the second car was in moderate condition, and the patient in the last car was only lightly injured. We did triage and decided on treating the patients from the overturned car first, as they required more attention.”
Zohar explained the process of treatment at the scene. “I didn’t have all of my medical equipment with me, so we used whatever the nurse had in his private ambulance. We stabilized the head and neck of the seriously injured and put neck braces on those who needed them.”
After 20 minutes, a helicopter arrived to evacuate the more seriously injured. Shortly thereafter ambulances arrived to transport the others to the nearest hospital.
Zohar waited until the very last patient was whisked away in an ambulance until returning to the bus and continuing on his way to Jerusalem. It was incredibly important to Zohar that he finished the job and made sure that everyone was cared for.
“When I returned to the bus an hour and a half later, the passengers welcomed me back with the biggest round of applause and compliments of ‘well done!’ and lots of good wishes and personalized letters they wrote for me while they were waiting,” added Zohar. “I was so impressed by their patience and willingness to help me help others, it is not something that is to be taken for granted especially in Israel where people are often in a rush. They were inspired by the work that we volunteer first responders do. It was truly an emotional moment for me as I felt that I was just doing my job and they let me do it.”
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