On Sunday evening United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Gavriel Bitton rescued two people, a father and a daughter from choking at the same incident. Gavriel who hails from Tel Aviv and serves as the team leader for United Hatzalah in the south-eastern district of the city has been volunteering for nine years, but this is the first time he has ever responded to a double choking incident.
The incident occurred, Gavriel was returning home from his nightly run when his communications device alerted him to a medical emergency occurring in the building across the street. Without hesitation, the experienced EMT grabbed his medical kit and continued running to the neighboring building. Gavriel raced up the flights of stairs and entered the apartment that was given as the address. Upon arrival, he found a man in his thirties leaning on his sofa, red-faced and not breathing, with an anxious wife by his side, holding their baby daughter.
Quickly detecting the problem, Gavriel flipped the man to a different position, allowing air to flow easier into the man’s mouth. The man’s wife explained that the man had a severe allergy to dust, and was apparently suffering from an allergy attack, causing his airway to be restricted. Just as Gavriel was stabilizing the thirty-year-old man and everyone began to breathe a bit easier, the sounds of more choking and coughing began coming from a different direction. The eight-month-old baby began choking herself. The mother hearing the sounds turned pale and began to feel dizzy.
Knowing the risk of a choking baby and how quickly it can become fatal, Gavriel immediately grabbed the baby and turned her over on his arm. He administered two measured back blows. After just a few seconds, the child cleared her airway and began breathing normally once again. The volunteer stayed with the family, explaining to the mother how to perform the Heimlich until the ambulance arrived. Both the father and daughter went to the hospital to receive a checkup at the emergency room to make sure that everything was okay. Gavriel never learned what caused the infant to choke.
Quote from Gavriel Bitton:
“We were all grateful for the father’s mild choking because if he hadn’t called for help I wouldn’t have been there in the first place to save the baby,” Gavriel commented. “I hate seeing people suffer, that’s why I became a medic in the army, and later a volunteer with United Hatzalah. Going home knowing that I saved a life today is a feeling that one cannot fathom unless they have lived through it. I feel a great deal of gratitude when I participate in the act of saving a life and am reminded how lucky I am to be alive today.”
Gavriel discovered his passion for saving lives while serving as a paramedic in his combat unit in the Israeli Defense Forces. Providing medical aid to his friends and unit members sparked an admiration for the simple act of helping another, so when Gavriel was released from the army, he began to volunteer with United Hatzalah’s first responders team.
Today, Gavriel is in his thirties and married. He works as a data strategizing analyst for business optimization. Since the beginning of his volunteering period, Gavriel initiated 11 first aid courses and 30 ‘safe family’ workshops across the country. Gavriel also functions as the manager and organizer of recruitment for the Tel Aviv team.
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