On Tuesday afternoon, just before 4:00 p.m. a man in his early 60s was walking down Jaffa Street in Jerusalem and had just passed the Davidka Square when he suddenly began to feel ill and collapsed. Worried passersby called emergency services for help.
Upon receiving the alert, United Hatzalah’s Dispatch and Command Center notified the closest volunteers to the incident. EMTs Yechiel Stern, Michael Gruskot, and David Koenigsofer were all going about their days when the notification came in from dispatch. They all dropped what they were doing and rushed to provide assistance.
“I was drinking coffee with a friend at Zion Square when my communication device rang. I saw that I was very close to the incident so I jumped on my ambucycle and rushed over,” recounted Koenigsofer. “I arrived at the same time as Yechiel and we checked the man for a pulse. Finding none I attached my defibrillator as Yechiel began compressions.”
Stern, who was at home in Meah Shearim cleaning for Pesach, rushed out and drove to the iconic square on one of the organization’s “mini-lance” vehicles designed to maneuver the narrow roadways of Meah Shearim and the city-center. Arriving in less than three minutes he spearheaded the CPR effort until the ambulance was able to arrive.
“I saw a man rush out of a bank and begin compressions. He said he was also a volunteer of United Hatzalah but I didn’t recognize him and he wasn’t wearing a vest. But he knew what he was doing,” recounted Stern. “Once I got there, I took over compressions as he assisted David with the equipment, setting up an oxygen tank and applying the defibrillator which gave three shocks. Soon after, the ambulance arrived and we continued CPR for 20 minutes before the man’s pulse came back. To our surprise and joy, he also began to breathe on his own.”
“There is no feeling in the world like saving a life,” Stern added. “I’ve been doing this for more than eight years and every time I help someone, it is a gift. I am thankful to have the opportunity and responsibility that comes with being a volunteer EMT. It is enriching my life and the lives of many others.”
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