On Thursday night just before 8:00 p.m., a 12-year-old girl was playing with her year and a half old brother when he swallowed a large piece of candy. The candy became logged in the infant’s throat causing him to stop breathing. When the sister noticed her brother’s blue face, she called inside to her mother who then called United Hatzalah’s Dispatch and Command Center.
The incident took place on Yehuda HaNasi street in Ashdod, and United Hatzalah’s dispatchers alerted the closest medical personnel to the emergency. United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Shalom Oberlander’s received the alert from his communications device.
Shalom was just a block away when he was alerted to the choking incident. He ran to his car and drove the block over to the address and raced up the stairs into the apartment. He arrived in just under a minute after receiving the alert. Locating the blue-faced child immediately, Shalom began examining the infant’s throat in search of the object that was blocking the child’s airways. Discovering the candy deep in the child’s throat, Shalom began by trying to scoop out the candy with his small finger.
Failing to reach the candy that was fully blocking the young boy’s windpipe, Shalom flipped the child over onto his stomach and began administering measured back blows in the hopes of causing the child to dislodge the candy before he lost consciousness. Shalom simultaneously requested a mobile intensive care ambulance from the dispatch center. After close to two minutes of alternating between back blows and chest compressions, the candy flew out of the child’s mouth. The young boy began to wail, his cries were a sign that he could once again breathe and that in spite of the pain and fear that he was currently experiencing, his airway was clear and the danger had passed.
After a quick check that the child’s condition was fine, and that no pieces of candy were left behind, Shalom handed the child over to his frantic mother.
“I stayed with the family until the ambulance came, it took around ten minutes,” said Shalom. “Even though the mother decided not to take her child to the hospital I thought it was important to stay with the family. The mother had watched me save her child’s life, and she was still shaken up. In cases of choking, every second counts, and the fact that I happened to be nearby is the reason that the child is alive today. If he would have had to wait an additional ten minutes until the ambulance had arrived, he likely would not have survived.”
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