On Friday, one of the runners of the Jerusalem Marathon (10k) had a unique experience that changed the course of the race for him; he stopped to help a woman who had fallen and sustained injuries to both of her legs. But this wasn’t by happenstance as the runner is a volunteer EMT with United Hatzalah and was notified of the incident by the organization’s national dispatch center.
“I was running the 10K leg of the marathon with my wife and 3 months old child, and we had just passed the four-kilometer mark of the race when I received an emergency alert on my radio that a woman had fallen and injured her legs a few hundred meters ahead of me,” said Raphael Poch a newly graduated EMT with the organization. “I handed the stroller to my wife and picked up the pace running at full tilt and arrived at IDF square just outside the Jaffa gate less than a minute later. I saw a woman who had fallen on the other side of the square just outside the old Dan Pearl hotel building. She had apparently fallen down some of the steps and injured her legs.”
Poch ran over to the woman and began to check her injuries. After a minute the woman felt that she would be able to stand. With the help of the woman’s husband and an ambucycle EMT who had also arrived, Poch helped the woman over to a small cart that they had called over from the Marathon organizers that would escort her and her husband to their car. “The woman’s injuries were thankfully minor, but it could have been worse, as she could have sustained a head injury on the slick Jerusalem stone which was wet due to the many runners discarding water bottles not too far from the area. We were all thankful that the injuries were not severe and that there was no permanent damage.”
President and Founder of United Hatzalah Eli Beer commented on the incident. “During marathons and other large events in Jerusalem as well as other cities in Israel, it is often difficult for emergency vehicles to arrive quickly at the scenes of emergencies due to the many road closures and the mass of runners running throughout the streets of the city. While ambulance crews and emergency responders are set up along the route, having EMTs available at a moment’s notice on foot, or by ambucycle, is incredibly important in order to provide for the safety of all citizens. That is why we built the network of community-based volunteers teamed with ambucycles and the most advanced GPS notification technology there is that allows our volunteers to provide the fastest response possible in any situation. Our tracking system located our volunteer just a few hundred meters away in the middle of his race and notified him about the emergency. He was able to arrive even before the ambucycle team.”
Poch added that while his time was not as fast as it should have been due to the incident, he was happy to be able to help when needed. “It was my first race. I generally don’t run marathons, or even 10k. And while my time was a mess, stopping to help others is what we are trained to do and that takes precedence over everything. Next year, I hope to make better time on the race, but I will always be available to help whoever needs me whenever they need. To me, that is what being Israeli is all about.”