An 80-year-old woman suffered a heart attack on Tuesday in the Shmuel Hanavi neighborhood of Jerusalem. United Hatzalah EMTs arrived in order to treat the woman and valiantly tried to save her life.
The foreign worker who helped the woman had pressed the panic button from the Natalie ambulance service which automatically notified the United Hatzalah command center. The dispatchers notified the closest EMTs and paramedics to the scene who set out immediately to try to save the woman’s life.
Over the course of the CPR procedure, the EMTs were surprised when another woman walked out of the bathroom having just taken a shower. The foreign worker who cared for the older woman told the EMS responders that the newly entered woman was the daughter of the collapsed woman and that she was deaf.
The EMS responders attempted to communicate with the daughter and tell her what was happening but they were unable to do so as the daughter was also blind and could not read their lips or see their gestures. The daughter began to panic.
The responders called for members of the Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit to come and help calm the daughter. Upon hearing over the radio that the EMTs on the scene were having difficulty communicating with the daughter, EMT and Psychotrauma Unit responder Moshe Mizrachi, who can communicate in sign language, rushed over to the scene. Upon arrival, he took the daughter aside in order to try and communicate with her and let her know what the status of her mother was.
In the meantime, due to the efforts of the other EMS responders, the 80-year-old woman had regained her pulse. Mizrachi called a friend who translates Hebrew into sign language and asked for his advice as to how best to communicate with the daughter who could not see his regular sign language. The friend suggested that Mizrachi takes the woman’s finger and move it with his own hands while he was signing and that she would understand in that fashion. The suggestion worked and Mizrachi was able to tell that daughter what was happening. The woman then suggested to Mizrachi that if needed he could write out the words on his own hand with her finger and she would understand that as well.
When Mizrachi told her that her mother had regained a pulse she burst out in tears. Just then disaster struck and the mother’s pulse disappeared just before she was put into an ambulance. The EMS responders again connected her to a defibrillator and again performed CPR for another 20 minutes. Mizrachi continued to explain to the daughter everything that was happening, the entire time holding her hand. Finally, the mother’s pulse returned and this time for good. The daughter again broke out into tears. The mother was transported to the hospital and is in the process of making a full recovery.
“I learned sign language from my friends who are deaf. I am now hoping to take classes in it so that I can be bettered prepared to provide service to the deaf and hard of hearing community of Israel,” said Mizrachi after the incident.
“I think I am one of two EMTs in the organization who knows sign language. One of the most important things for an EMT is to be able to communicate with those in need of medical assistance. We need to know how to talk to them, explain to them what is happening, calm them down, and ask them important questions relating to their medical history or the medical history of their loved ones. We don’t answer calls from a specific group of the population, rather we answer the calls of everyone and that includes members of the blind and deaf communities. We need to know how to help them as best we can. I think it is important for all EMTs to learn sign language so that we can help treat the people of this community as well.”