Dealing With The Tragedy When Lifesaving Goes From Rescue To Recovery

Tiberias– On Friday afternoon just before Sukkot at 2:30 p.m., a 30-year-old man who had been swimming with his father on the Khoury Beach in Tiberias got caught in the strong undertow in the Kineret and disappeared under the waves. After mere minutes of their son not emerging from the water, the worried parents called the Israel Police in hopes that their maritime rescue squad could rescue him.

Yossi Oknin on United Hatzalah ambuboat during the search

The police alerted United Hatzalah in order to dispatch the EMS organization’s maritime rescue teams. United Hatzalah Tiberias Chapter Head Yossi Oknin, who captain’s the organization’s ambuboat was incidentally within 50 meters of the worried family when dispatch alerted him to the disappearance. He was doing some repairs by the United Hatzalah rescue boat and jet ski dock but he dropped everything, sped over on the jet ski, and reached the shore in about two minutes.

 

Yossi was first to arrive and met with the distraught parents who said that their son was part of a residence for people with disabilities and they took him out that morning for an enjoyable day out together. However, several minutes had already passed since they lost sight of him in the water. The UH chapter head-mounted the jet ski with the distressed father seated behind him and sped out onto the water where the man directed him to the suspected area of his drowned son. Yossi cast out a buoy by the specified area to mark the place of the search and returned the father safely to the beach. 

 

As soon as they got back to the shore, the United Hatzalah rescue boat came along with the Israel Police maritime diving and rescue unit and the search for the missing boy began in earnest with Yossi and the trained divers scanning the ocean.

 

During the lengthy search for the missing man, volunteers from United Hatzalah’s Psychotrauma & Crisis Response Unit (PCRU) arrived to provide emotional support and stabilization to the distraught family. The volunteers comforted them as the search continued and stayed alongside them throughout the difficult ordeal.

After almost seven hours of vigorous searching, the body of the 30-year-old was found in the Sea of Galilee at around 9:30 p.m. The man was brought to be buried soon afterward.

 

Yossi said, “It was so hard for me to see a father lose a son and the family lose a brother. It was a very emotional and delicate situation and therefore I am so grateful to the PCRU for the emotional support and stabilization that the team provided, especially as this rescue effort, unfortunately, turned into a recovery. As the time passed it became clear that the incident quickly went from being about saving a life to assisting the family in processing the traumatic incident and providing them comfort for their loss.”

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