At 7:30 p.m. on Monday evening, Shalom Klein was working at Yeshivat Ohel Shimon Erloi in Katamon when he was suddenly alerted to a medical emergency occurring nearby. Shalom in addition to being a manager at the Yeshiva also volunteers as an EMT first responder with United Hatzalah. An older man had been eating supper in a seniors residence when he suddenly choked and couldn’t breathe. Staff at the residence called emergency services for help.
With the residence being located just two streets away from Shalom’s location, he was located as being one of the closest first responders and alerted to the incident by United Hatzalah’s dispatch and command center. Shalom dropped what he was doing at work and rushed over, he arrived at the scene together with another United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Alex Katz.
“When we arrived we found the man semi-conscious and having difficulty breathing,” Shalom recounted. “His caregiver told us that he had been eating and choked and that the caregiver himself then put the man into his bed. We tried to talk to him, but all he could make were strangled sounds. Then he lost consciousness right in front of our eyes.”
Alex and Shalom knew that the cause of the man’s sudden loss of consciousness was due to his having choked. Without wasting any time they lifted the man out of his bed, held him up and Shalom performed the Heimlich Maneuver. “He was a slight man, and we performed the Heimlich on him. After five thrusts of the Heimlich maneuver, a large piece of potato flew out of the man’s mouth. The man began to breathe once again on his own and even regained consciousness a few moments later,” Shalom recounted.
The ambulance showed up a few minutes after the drama had died down and transported the man to the hospital for a thorough check-up to make sure that there was no internal damage from the choking episode.
“The feeling I had when I saw the man’s being able to breathe once again and I saw his color returning, was incredible,” Alex added. “There is a sense of satisfaction that is unique to when you see a person almost die in front of you, and then bring them back to life. It is incomparable with anything else I have ever felt. I wish the man a full and speedy recovery and I am thankful that I was able to be in the right place at the right time to help him.”
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