On Sunday morning, just after 12:45 a.m., a 35-year-old mother of two collapsed during the traditional Mimouna celebration. The unfortunate woman had suffered a heart attack and fell unconscious in front of her family and friends.
Nearby, United Hatzalah volunteers Lipaz Hatuel, her husband Shmuel, her mother Shira Amsalem, and one of their guests, Eran Lev, were celebrating the Mimouna festival together at the home of Lipaz and Shmuel when all of their emergency phones began chirping simultaneously alerting them to the emergency taking place a few blocks from their current location.
Lipaz, Shira, and Eran rushed to their cars and sped to the address of the emergency, while Shmuel stayed behind to watch the children and entertain the family’s guests. “We ran out so fast that Lipaz didn’t even have time to change her shirt, which was a traditional garb for the festival,” said Shira.
Once at the scene, the three EMTs met with the ambulance team that was just arriving and joined together to perform CPR on the young woman. “We alternated performing compressions and providing assisted ventilation on the woman,” said Lipaz. “All the while, the woman’s children, who were both teenagers were hysterically screaming on the side as they watched the proceedings praying that we would save their mother. My mom, Shira, who in addition to being an EMT is a volunteer with United Hatzalah’s Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit, took them into a different room and began speaking with them in an effort to calm them down. The fact that she did this allowed us to work on the woman, and thankfully our efforts were successful, and after nearly an hour, the woman’s pulse came back and she began breathing once again.”
“The children were hysterical,” recounted Shira. “It took a long time and a lot of effort to calm them down and help them process what was happening. They had gone into emotional shock at seeing their mother collapse. I was saddened so much to see how much pain they were in. Thankfully, utilizing the techniques I have been trained with, and some of my own skills as a mother, I was able to finally calm them down. Once their mother’s pulse came back, I was able to relay that information and that helped them further. I am so thankful that the CPR was successful and that their mother would come back to them.”
Speaking about what it is like to respond to medical emergencies with her own family members Shira smiled with pride and said: “It is really uplifting to see how brave and strong my daughter is. She makes me proud every time we rush out together to save lives. Her husband Shimon is also a volunteer and that too makes me proud. Rushing out together with one’s family to medical emergencies is something that brings us closer as a family. It is a great feeling.”
“At the beginning, I used to rush out by myself as I was the first volunteer in the family, now my daughter passes me and runs out faster than I do. Whenever we are in synagogue together, or at a meal together, she is out the door well before me, and even before her husband. It doesn’t matter which emergency is. It could be a shooting, a light injury, or someone with shortness of breath. I am so proud of both of them and the work that they do in helping those around them no matter what the circumstances. As a mother, there is no greater satisfaction for me.”
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