On a recent Shabbat at the end of May, a two-year-old girl was suffering from a suspected respiratory emergency at her home on HaShophet Haim Cohen Street in Jerusalem. United Hatzalah physician responder Dr. Aviram Zeiler left his synagogue and raced to the scene. Fayyad Asilah, a United Hatzalah medic from east Jerusalem who works as a cab driver, happened to be nearby when he received the alert from headquarters.
The devoted volunteer sped to the given address with his rescue kit at the ready. Fayyad was relieved to find his colleague Dr. Zeiler at the scene, already treating the little girl. The patient’s mother was highly anxious, as her husband was still at the synagogue and she couldn’t leave her other children unattended to accompany her daughter in the ambulance.
“Don’t worry,” the Muslim medic assured her, “I’ll drive over right now and let him know what’s happening. He can ride back with me in my taxi. Fayyad found the synagogue, parked his taxi outside, and rushed inside with his orange medic vest.
“It must have been quite a sight for them and it was certainly a tad uneasy for me to rush inside a Jerusalem synagogue, causing a commotion in the middle of prayers. To top it off, my head was clearly uncovered and I was carrying mobile phones to stay in touch with the ambulance and United Hatzalah’s dispatch.”
A congregant immediately approached Fayyad. “How can I help you, sir?” Together they quickly managed to identify the patient’s father. The United Hatzalah medic provided a rapid update and together they hurried out to his taxi. “I know the routine,” Fayyad said. “I offered to hold the taxi door open for the gentleman and close it after him, out of sensitivity for his traditional Sabbath observance. All volunteers in United Hatzalah, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, receive training in basic Jewish law so that we know what to do on Shabbat and holidays in order to make treating Jewish patients easier. This is why I knew what to do and how to do it to prevent the desecration of Shabbat as much as possible for the family.”
Thanks to Fayyad, the man was able to make it home in a flash and be there for his family. Once he arrived home, his wife got in the ambulance with their daughter and accompanied her to the hospital, so she could get the comprehensive follow-up medical care she needed.
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