On Sunday morning, United Hatzalah Dispatch and Command Center in Jerusalem received a call that a baby was choking in the Neve Yaakov neighborhood of Jerusalem. Volunteer EMT first responders Yechiel Gurfein and Daniel Katzenstein who live in the neighborhood raced to the scene. As they arrived, Gurfein hearing that the call was six flights up, told Katzenstein to grab the equipment and take the elevator as he would rush up the stairs.
Gurfein bounded up the six flights and found a mother holding her baby outside her door attempting to remove the blockage from the baby’s throat. Gurfein gently took the baby and began CPR maneuvers aimed at extricating the blockage. In less than 10 seconds his efforts paid off and the blockage, a cap from a lithium battery came flying out of the baby’s mouth together with some blood from the infant’s scratched throat.
When Katzenstein arrived together with other volunteers who had responded they monitored the baby’s airway and made sure that no further blockage occurred and that the baby was in stable condition and as comfortable as could be. After ensuring that the ambulance was en route, they escorted the mother and baby downstairs to wait for the ambulance’s arrival. Once it arrived, the team passed the patient over to the ambulance to be taken to hospital for further care and observation.
“We were all on our way to work,” Gurfein said about the dramatic incident. “It was just like any other day, but then we got the call and we knew we had to act fast. I rushed over and took the stairs as this was a case of choking and every second counted. Thankfully the blockage came out easily and the baby is okay. In the back of my mind I know that this is a really big deal, but for me, it just seemed like the right thing to do. In the moment I didn’t really reflect on how I just saved a child’s life and that this child will now hopefully live a very long and happy life, I just acted. I think it is what any person would do. I’m just thankful that I have the training that allows me to help others around me. It is a great feeling to know that I helped today, but it was just our team doing our job.”
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