Not Dying On Our Watch

On Wednesday morning at around 9:00 a.m., when United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Zahir Benish had just returned home from his morning prayers, a 91-year-old woman suffered a cardiac arrest in Carmiel. The woman was traveling in a taxi with her daughter when she lost consciousness. The driver stopped the car and called emergency services to get help. Together the taxi driver and the daughter drew the woman out of the car and laid her down in a safe place off to the side of the road. 

Zahir with his ambucycle

 

All the nearby volunteer medical personnel were immediately notified of the emergency. Zahir, who received the notification, ran right back out the door, hopped onto his ambucycle, and zoomed through the Carmiel streets to the woman’s location. A minute later as he was driving, Zahir received the alert from another United Hatzalah volunteer EMT, Erik Bar- El who said that there had been a mistake and the given address was incorrect. Zahir continued driving down the street, waiting for further instructions and an accurate location of the woman in need of immediate assistance. A few seconds later, Zahir came across an EMT performing CPR on an elderly woman on the side of the road. He jumped off his ambucycle and rushed over to help. 

 

In spite of not having the correct address, Zahir had been headed in the correct direction the entire time and found the woman coincidentally. “Hashem brought me to her so that I could be  part of the team that saved her life,” Zahir said. “Everything about this incident was a total miracle, from finding her in time to the successful resuscitation.”

 

The first EMT was relieved when Zahir arrived and joined the effort to save her life. The frantic daughter had told him that her mother suffered from medical illnesses in the past. While they were in the taxi, she started to feel pain as if she was experiencing an Atrial Fibrillation. Only a few seconds later she collapsed. Based on the woman’s age and medical history, the EMT understood the seriousness of the woman’s situation and knew that they would need additional help, including advanced life support (ALS) in order to save this woman. 

 

The pair of EMTs carried on with CPR, attaching a heart monitor, performing compressions, and artificial respiration. Additional EMTs arrived at the scene and finally a paramedic with the mobile intensive care ambulance. The paramedic inserted an IV line and administered adrenaline as well as other medications and fluids to the woman while the EMTs continued performing compressions. Zahir stayed very active at the scene, working with the other first responders and helping in any way he could. When the original oxygen tank was depleted, Zahir switched it out, replacing it with a full one.

 

“There was amazing teamwork at the scene,” noted Zahir, “ We were a team of around 10 people, consisting of both EMTs and paramedics who worked flawlessly and seamlessly together. It didn’t matter who we were or where we were from, just that we were all working towards the same goal to restore life to the woman. We persevered, and after almost half an hour of CPR, the woman’s pulse returned. I think what pushed us to continue trying was that many of us had been at similar incidents where a person passed away and it was irreversible. We wanted to prevent that from happening here. Thankfully we succeeded.”

 

The team worked together during the intensive resuscitation of more than 30 minutes to revive the 91-year-old woman. They all celebrated the awaited return of her pulse and blood pressure and took her to the hospital in the ambulance for further care and recovery.

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