On Sunday evening, just after 5:00 p.m., United Hatzalah volunteer Gilad Sharabi received an emergency alert to an 83-year-old woman who had collapsed in her home on Yisrael Yishayahu Street in Petach Tikvah. Sharabi, who was just returning home from a different emergency incident where he treated a man with chest pains, sped over on his personal motorcycle to the given address. He ran up the stairs and found the woman unconscious. The woman’s caretaker was using a mechanical lift to take her from the bed to the floor so that she could begin CPR.
After checking for a pulse and finding none, Gilad alerted United Hatzalah’s Dispatch that he was beginning CPR and requested backup and a defibrillator.
Upon hearing the request on the radio, ambucycle driver Shlomo Avidan who in the middle of remodeling his house nearby, jumped on his ambucycle and sped over to the location to assist Sharabi. Another EMT, Aryeh Lerner, who runs the chapter’s equipment center and was arranging equipment to be delivered to the volunteers in the city, also heard the request for backup and grabbed a defibrillator from a nearby table and rushed over to the address of the incident. The reinforcements arrived in less than two minutes and found Sharbai in the middle of chest compressions. They attached a defibrillator and oxygen and initiated assisted ventilation. The defibrillator did not advise a shock. The team carried on with CPR, rotating positions as needed.
Approximately 10 minutes later an intensive care ambulance team arrived and joined the effort. The now expanded team rotated performing compressions, managing the assisted ventilation, and administering medications. Finally, about 20 minutes after Sharabi arrived and began compressions, the woman’s pulse returned. Once she was stabilized, the team brought her down to the ambulance to be transported to the hospital for further care and monitoring.
After the CPR was over Aryeh Lerner spoke about his joy at having assisted in saving the woman’s life. “This has become my love, my dream. I’m a pensioner with 11 children and 5 grandchildren, and I spend my days either in the equipment center, making sure that all of the volunteers have what they need in order to save a life, or out responding to medical emergencies.”
Lerner, who responds to on average 180 medical emergencies each month, finds joy in helping others. “I feel that this is what everyone should do. We should all help each other whenever and wherever we can. Helping someone else isn’t about just responding to CPRs, or major car accidents, it means rushing out in the middle of the night to help an old woman who has fallen and needs help getting back up. To see the smile on that woman’s face, it is worth all of the trouble and hassle of getting out of the bed in the middle of the night, or dropping whatever I’m doing in the middle of the day to go and help. This is a dream for me and it is what fills me with joy, so that is what I do. I just wish I had found this calling earlier in life.”
Gilad Sharabi who was the first responder at the scene has a bit of a different reason as to why he has the time to respond to so many medical emergencies. “Corona has hit me hard. While I have always dreamed of saving lives as an EMT, I also need to work. I have my own business and try to work from home, but there, unfortunately, hasn’t been much work for me lately, due to the impact of the virus. Instead of staying at home worrying or complaining, I’m doing something proactive and helping others. It is how I can be useful to society until my business gets going again. In the meantime, I am happy to help others, and saving a life always gives me a lift. I can certainly use it now, I am thankful that I had the opportunity to help someone else, and keep both my dream of being an EMT, and this woman, alive.”
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