My name is Lahav Peled and I’ve been a United Hatzalah volunteer for a bit more than a year. I live in Kiryat Tivon, a town near Haifa, in northern Israel. My family and I were visiting my wife’s parents in Qatzrin over the intermediate days of Pesach and while we were sitting down to eat, my bluebird device alerted me that there was a man choking near my location. I dropped my fork onto the table, made my apologies for leaving and rushed outside. I got into my car and drove to the address listed on the location indicator on my phone.
Qatzrin, the capital of the Golan region, is not a big city and I arrived at the scene fairly quickly. When I walked in the door, I found a grown man trying to care for his elderly father who was 84 – years – old. The older man’s lips were blue and I saw that there was a food tray nearby. I asked the son what had happened. He explained that he lives alone with his father and that he has no other family on this earth. His father is everything to him and that he cares for him by himself.
He was very agitated I could tell. The father didn’t seem to be breathing but still had a pulse. I asked the son if his father had eaten anything and he replied in the affirmative and that he had stopped speaking a few moments ago and turned blue. I checked the older man’s airway and indeed he was not breathing and some of the food was lodged in his throat. I picked the man up from his chair and performed the Heimlich maneuver. A piece of food shot out of his mouth on the fourth squeeze. The father began to cough and breathe once more. The son began to thank me profusely. As we waited for the ambulance to arrive I continued to treat the father by providing him with oxygen while simultaneously calming and reassuring the son. The danger was over. HIs father needed to still go to the hospital to receive further care, but for now, he was stable.
The Golan Heights and the city of Qatzrin are especially far from any hospital. It took about 15 minutes for the first ambulance to arrive. Had I not been around to provide treatment for this man, it is very likely that he would not have finished the holiday in good health.
This was the first time that I had ever performed the Heimlich maneuver on someone. I’ve saved lives before, via CPR and other instances, but this was the first time I saved a life by myself.
It is the greatest feeling in the world to know that I have saved a person’s life with my own hands. I am a police officer in my day-to-day job so I am accustomed to emergencies, but saving someone’s life with my bare hands is still a relatively new feeling. This is what I joined United Hatzalah for, and I can say without a doubt, that every call I have ever responded to and all of the hours of training I’ve undergone to get here are all worth it knowing that this man is alive and his son will not mourn today.