Local boy from Springfield, MA, becomes lifesaving hero in Israel

“The greatest sense of satisfaction you can possibly get comes from saving someone’s life,” said former Springfield, resident Daniel Klughaupt, “it is the best shot that you can get in any happy hour.”

Klughaupt, who currently lives in Ramat Gan, volunteers as an emergency medical technician (EMT) with United Hatzalah and is also a volunteer medical clown. “I have been involved with the field of emergency medical services (EMS) since high school in the mid 90’s”.

Daniel Klughaupt - From Springfield to saving lives in Ramat Gan

Daniel Klughaupt – From Springfield to saving lives in Ramat Gan

Daniel was born to Rabbi Shlomo and Phyllis Klughaupt in Springfield, MA, his family was very involved in community and charity work. “My grandparents, Ernest and Ilsa Hess, set the tone for the family and we were always working to better the lives of those in the community,” recalled Daniel. Ilsa was a cook in an old age home and Ernest acted as the mashgiach kashrut. “My mother was involved in the JCC in Boston and my father was a Rabbi at Heritage Academy in Longmeadow, MA. Among the many community projects that my mother initiated was creating the mikvah in Longmeadow. Before she took up the project, the nearest mikvah was 4 hours away.”

Daniel recalled that it wasn’t always easy living as a Jew in Springfield. “I remember that the  school I attended and where my father was a Rabbi, the Heritage Academy, was burnt down in an anti-Semitic arson attack. Despite that setback, my mother launched a broad-based fundraising campaign to rebuild the school. One of the places that she appealed to was a Christian academy. I came along, I guess for the cuteness factor, but everyone thought that I was Christian because I had blue eyes and bright blond hair,” said Daniel with a smile on his face.  

From Springfield, the family moved to New Jersey for a short time before making aliyah to Israel in 1987.

“When I got to Israel, I began learning in Yeshivat B’nei Akiva in Ra’anana and I began volunteering with the ambulance services. I ended up marrying my girlfriend from the B’nei Akiva youth group. We currently live in Ramat Gan, and we are carrying on the family tradition of doing good work and acts of loving kindness.”

Klughaupt, who despite his long history of EMS work is a recent addition to the United Hatzalah family, received an ambucycle – a fully-equipped motorcycle ambulance –  from United Hatzalah at the beginning of May and immediately began heading out to medical emergencies all over the Tel Aviv area, including answering calls from Ramat Gan, Givat Shmuel, Givatayim, and Ra’anana. Over the two months that Daniel has had his new ambucycle, he has answered dozens of calls, and is already responsible for saving numerous lives.

“One story that sticks out in my mind is a call I received one Friday night just as I was leaving for synagogue. Instead of heading to the synagogue to pray, I jumped on my ambucycle and headed to the location of the emergency. I arrived at the house and the whole place was set for Shabbat. There were challot and wine set up, the Friday night finery was all on display, and the table was set immaculately. Jarringly out of place was a 61 year-old-man, collapsed on the floor, surrounded by his panic-stricken family. I had arrived first and immediately began resuscitation efforts. I was soon joined by other United Hatzalah volunteers and  we spent an hour and a half resuscitating him. He received 18 shocks from a defibrillator but then thankfully he regained consciousness.”

“Some time later when I was shopping in the local supermarket. A woman came up to me and said, ‘Do you remember me?’ It turned out that she was the wife of the man I had resuscitated on that Friday night. I asked her ‘How is he?’ She said, ‘You can ask him yourself, he is currently buying potatoes.’ Stories like this give motivation for one to keep going, to keep doing compressions, even in situations that appear to be bleak and pointless. If it can save a life, and save a family, then it is worth the effort. Doing resuscitation for an hour and a half is very hard, but the results are certainly worth the effort.”

“Sometimes the inspiration comes from different areas. I once was dispatched to the Ra’anana junction to ‘an injured/ill person, undefined nature’. When I arrived on the scene, I found a truck stopped in the middle of the right lane just after the intersection. The driver, an Arab from Tira, had collapsed on the steering wheel. I called a passerby over to help me get the driver out of the truck so that I could begin resuscitation. We hooked him up to the defibrillator and he received 11 electrical shocks before he regained a pulse. I went with the ambulance that brought him to the hospital in Kfar Saba for advanced cardiac treatment and rehabilitation.” Klughaupt said that the he went to visit the driver two days later in the hospital, and met the driver’s wife. “I explained to her who I am and she began to cry and thank me profusely. The perceived barriers of hatred and distrust just melted away. If acts like this can bring people together, then we will all be better for it.

Klughaupt drives one of United Hatzalah’s ambucycles. What differentiates an ambucycle from a regular motorcycle is that United Hatzalah equips each of their ambucycles with all of the medical gear that an ambulance has, thus allowing the EMT driver to have all of the necessary medical equipment on hand when they arrive at the scene of the emergency.  Like Daniel, the story of his ambucycle is a bit out of the ordinary.

“My old regular motorcycle was destroyed due to a flash flood that occurred this past winter in Ra’anana when I was visiting my family. Our apartment is in a very low point in the city and the flood swept away my motorcycle. I later found it buried under a pile of mud, but the entire electrical system had been destroyed by the floodwaters. Luckily, I am not alone in my lifesaving efforts. My friends in Atlanta, whom I knew from my time in the United States, heard about the story and decided to donate an ambucycle to United Hatzalah. The donation was made both to replace my old motorcycle and in honor of their son’s bar mitzvah. It was really heartwarming for me to see how my friends from back home are supporting me and helping me save the lives of others in Israel.”    

Getting philosophical, Klughaupt said that “to be an EMT with United Hatzalah, or other EMS organizations, is really a rewarding experience. The work we do is the greatest opportunity to become a partner with God in the act of creation. He creates life, we save it.”

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