At around 9:15 on Friday morning, a 75-year-old man was eating breakfast in the kitchen of his home in Afula when he lost consciousness and fell to the floor. The man’s wife, son, and daughter were there with him and called emergency services for help.
Karen Ezouz, a United Hatzalah volunteer EMT, was shopping in preparation for Shabbat when she received the emergency alert. Karen realized that she was not far at all from the address written on her communication device and could drive there in just a few minutes. Karen abandoned her shopping cart on the side of the grocery store and ran out to her car in the parking lot.
When Karen arrived at the scene, a United Hatzalah paramedic and two other EMTs were already tending to the patient. She was relieved that they had started CPR so quickly. Karen surveyed the scene to see what she could help with. The team was still in the early stages of CPR. The EMTs were performing chest compressions and the paramedic had just started to intubate the man in order to allow for easier assisted breathing. Karen connected a Lucas device that provided automated compressions in an attempt to stabilize the patient.
Once the situation had calmed somewhat and CPR was underway, Karen got an okay from the others to step aside in order to assist the worried family members, whom she had noticed had developed severe emotional reactions to the incident. “It’s always important to make sure the witnesses to the medical emergency are okay as well,” Karen explained. “Things like this often take a strong emotional toll on those close to the person undergoing the medical emergency, especially if they are family. By utilizing the psychological first aid training that we received from the Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit, we can help alleviate sensations of helplessness that can build up the trauma for family members.”
Karen took the family members into another room where it was quiet and brought each of them a glass of water and got them to drink in order to help calm them down. “I don’t have that much experience with psychotrauma as I am not a certified practitioner, but we all learn the basics in the EMT training course that United Hatzalah provides and we pick up bits and pieces from other emergencies that we are present at. They had a lot of questions, many of which I couldn’t answer because I couldn’t say for sure what the outcome of our efforts was going to bring. All I could do at that moment was reassure them that their loved one was in good hands and that we were doing everything possible to save their loved one. I also explained to them that they are not alone and that I would keep them updated on everything. I was in a difficult situation because they wanted to hear good news, but I couldn’t tell them that everything was okay when that was not the reality. It wasn’t easy, but thankfully they started to relax.”
After around 15 minutes, the man’s pulse returned. The team continued treatment for another few minutes until the man was stable enough to be transported to the nearest hospital. The patient had sustained a head injury from his fall so the team tended to his wound before the transport.
“It was really emotional seeing the patient be successfully resuscitated, especially because he was along in years when successful outcomes are less frequent,” Karen said after the incident. “As always, it was encouraging being one of the EMTs to be a part of such a miracle. I consider myself fortunate that I was able to help both the patient and his family go through such a serious event.”
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