Rescuer of The People

About a month ago, a cement truck overturned on the Nachal Tzeilim roadway near the entrance to Ramat Beit Shemesh Gimmel. United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Avraham Levinger raced over on his ambucycle and began initial treatment and assessment for the wounded 35-year-old driver. A United Hatzalah ambulance crew arrived and in the shortest possible time the man was treated and prepped for transport.

 

Avraham next to his ambucycle

Just last Tuesday, also in Beit Shemesh, a factory worker was in an acoustic ceiling crawl space when the material gave way beneath him and he fell to the floor below. Avarham immediately sped to the scene. The 38-year-old man had landed on his back and suffered a sharp blow to his head. He was in such excruciating pain that he was beginning to lose focus. Another volunteer joined Avraham at the factory as well as a responding ambulance crew. The team carefully immobilized the man, placed him on a stretcher and transferred him into the ambulance for transport.

 

A short while later, Avraham was alerted to a severe accident on the highway and quickly hopped back on his ambucycle. It was late afternoon and the roads were filled with the usual rush-hour traffic, but his nimble vehicle enabled him to whizz around the heavy congestion.  Avraham was the first responder to arrive on scene and was met by a frightening sight. A bus had crashed into an electricity pylon and the huge tower had collapsed onto the vehicle! There was a very real danger of electrocution as the pylon emitted flashes and minor explosions. The United Hatzalah medic distanced onlookers, ensuring scene safety until police and fire departments arrived. The bus thankfully had no passengers and the driver managed to escape without injury.

 

Later that same evening, Avraham was working nonstop due to the massive Ethiopian protests going on in the area.  Many people trapped in their standstill vehicles began to feel ill from lack of water and stress. Elderly people and children were particularly vulnerable. Avraham responded to a convulsing baby and another child who had fainted. He also used his ambucycle to race to the scene when protesters sprayed tear gas right into a full intercity bus. An elderly couple was so badly affected that they began to lose consciousness. Avraham helped the couple out into the fresh air and monitored their condition until their breathing normalized.

 

Wherever and whenever someone needs help, if Avraham is nearby he will rush out to provide whatever assistance he can.

 

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Interrupting Prayers To Save A Choking Infant

United Hatzalah volunteer Yisrael Shavit saved a young girl in Hadera from choking on Sunday evening. After arriving in less than a minute at the scene of the incident, Shavit managed to single-handedly treat and rescue an infant from what could have been her death.

Yisrael Sharvit

Shavit described the dramatic story. “I was davening Mincha at Shul and I received an alert on my bluebird radio from dispatch. The alert said that a young toddler, about six-months-old was choking right near my location. I raced to my ambucycle and jumped on and rushed to the address. I saw a group of people standing around two parents who were holding their child in front of them. The father was slapping an infant girl on the back. I asked to take the child. She was making choking noises which meant that her airway was partially blocked. She had started to turn blue.

I looked inside her mouth and saw a small edge of what looked to be a bit of plastic stuck in her trachea. When I slapped her back, a bit more popped up. I stuck my finger in her mouth and after a few tries, was able to grab hold of and remove the plastic. It was a wrapper from an ice pop. Once the blockage was removed the child once again began crying.

The girl’s parents were so thankful for my quick arrival and successful assistance that they kissed me on the forehead in the middle of the street just as other EMS volunteers began arriving.

It was a few minutes before the ambulance came, they had a very healthy and stable patient who was taken to the hospital for follow-up care.

I’ve been at choking calls before but usually, you arrive after the person has choked and you need to do CPR. This is the first time I was able to arrive while it was still happening. I am happy that I was able to help and that I was a messenger of salvation in this instance. This is why I joined United Hatzalah. It is the reason the organization exists and why all of the volunteers do what we do.”

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An Inspiring Story from the Ethiopian Protests

A lot of news sources reported on the violence and the traffic that transpired during the Ethiopian protests across Israel yesterday. The protests caused a lot of difficulty for many people around the country as major thoroughfares were blocked by protesters who wanted their voices heard. Some of the protests turned violent with damage being done to police and EMS vehicles. Others, like the one near Beit Shemesh on Highway 38 remained non-violent. It was during this protest and the traffic problems that resulted that two inspiring stories depicting the kindness of our society transpired.

The groom (Center) with Tzachi Buchbot (far right) Itamar Amsalem (2nd from right) another United Hatzalah volunteer (left) who assisted in bringing the couple and their guests to the wedding

Motorists on Highway 38 waited for close to six hours without moving. Most turned off their cars to save gasoline. And while the wait was annoying and inconvenient for some, for others it almost turned into a catastrophic tragedy.
One family who was stuck in traffic on Highway 38 had three children in the back of their car and had run out of water and food. The two older children in the back seat were complaining that they were thirsty for a long time. In addition, the family had a 5-month-old infant with a heart murmur who desperately needed her medication and formula as she had not eaten for many hours. As the hours ticked by, the parents began to panic. Seeing no end in sight to the protest or the resulting traffic jam, the parents called United Hatzalah’s Dispatch and Command center requesting help.
The volunteer who answered the phone set in motion a series of events that brought relief to the family within minutes. United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Shlomi Polishuk in Beit Shemesh who lives near the intersection with Highway 38, was called and instructed to prepare a package of water, medicine, formula, and food. Polishuk quickly gathered the required items and headed out to the area closest to the protest that he could arrive at by car. While that was happening, the dispatch center contacted EMT ambucycle driver Tzachi Buchbot who also lives in Beit Shemesh but was assisting people stuck in the traffic and told him to meet Polishuk at the specified location. Buchbot raced over to the meeting point took the package and then brought it to the family in need at no charge. He gave the thankful parents his personal cell phone number and told them that if they needed anything else they should not hesitate to call.
Buchbot then proceeded to weave through the crowd to see if anyone else needed assistance. After just a few moments he was flagged down by a man who was looking forlorn and desperate. “My Fiance and I are late for our own wedding,” explained the man. “Our Chuppah was supposed to have been more than 2 hours ago,” he told Buchbot.
Buchbot, called United Hatzalah EMT Itamar Amsalem who drives one of the organization’s ATVs that is located in Beit Shemesh. He sent his location via WhatsApp and a few minutes later, Amsalem arrived with his ATV and took the couple via off-road paths to the wedding hall.  When the couple arrived at the hall they saw that it was empty. Their guests were also all stuck in the traffic. Amsalem left the couple to prepare and headed back to the traffic jam. together with Buchbot and other ambucycle volunteers, they went car to car asking people if they were guests of the wedding and transporting them in small groups with the ATV to the wedding hall. The Chuppah started just before midnight.

Scene of the Chuppah just before midnight

In an interview with Israeli news reporters from Yediot Acharonot, the groom said: “This wasn’t an easy night by any means. My wife was crying the entire time. I don’t wish this on anyone on their wedding day. While I don’t blame the Ethiopians for protesting, I believe that more could have been done by the police to control the situation and allow people to pass.”
“When you come down to it, we are all family,” said Buchbot after the incident. “I am here tonight to help others. I volunteer and help others all the time, today was just a different style of help. I am happy to do it and I am glad that I can be a small part of an organization who is dedicated to doing exactly this, without worrying about cost or reimbursement. When people need help, we are there to help them.”
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Vacationing First Responders Save Two Lives In Separate Drowning Incidents

Thursday evening saw two drownings happen at hotels where EMTs happened to be vacationing. The first incident occurred at the David Dead Sea Resort and Spa located at Ein Bokek when a five-year-old boy drowned in the pool.

United Hatzalah EMTs reviving a drowning victim (illustration)

United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Chani Carmel who was also vacationing at the pool responded to the emergency and began treating the boy. “I was staying at the hotel, while on vacation when I suddenly heard shouts that someone was in need of help,” Chani said. “I rushed over and was told that a five-year-old boy had drowned in the pool of the hotel. I treated the boy and helped stabilize his condition, after which he was transported via ambulance to the hospital for further care. The boy is in moderate condition.”

A second incident also occurred on Thursday, this time in Crete. United Hatzalah paramedic Ami Tarbas was vacationing with his family at the Stella Palace Resort and Spa. is family was just heading back to their rooms when they heard a commotion by the pool and people screaming.

“We had just finished dinner and were passing by the pool on the way to our rooms when we heard the commotion and saw a bunch of people huddled together near one of the bars in the pool,” Tarbas said. “I went over to see what was happening and suddenly found myself doing compressions on a middle-aged man who was pulseless. I asked one of the bartenders to call for an ambulance and get me a defibrillator. After two shocks the person’s pulse came back and they were transported to the hospital for further care.”

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Disabled EMT Serves as Head of Search and Rescue Unit

Last week, United Hatzalah volunteer Eli Almoznino orchestrated the successful search and rescue operations which found three missing people. This is something Almoznino, who heads the organization’s Search and Rescue Unit, is quite used to doing. What is astounding is that Almoznino is a disabled amputee who volunteers as an EMT and as in his position as head of the unit. 

“Each day I wake up and I merit to be able to save other people’s lives. I feel an incredible sense of satisfaction with what I do, so much so that I cannot put it into words,” Almoznino said. 

 

His life was altered five years ago when a woman drove her car into his while Eli was on his way to work. “I was working in Be’er Yaakov at the time, and while I was on my way to the office, a woman drove her car into mine. She was on her phone and was not paying attention to what was happening on the road. What I recall from the incident was that I opened my eyes and saw the windshield on my face. There was intense pain all over my body. From the incident, I developed Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) otherwise known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), which rendered my right leg unusable. I have been suffering from the pain ever since and a few months ago I finally decided to have an amputation done. Since then, I’ve been walking on a prosthetic.” 

 

For years Eli was walking with crutches but he never let that slow him down. “After I was injured, I realized that I cannot let this injury keep me from doing what I love, which is helping others. I continued to respond to emergencies as an EMT whenever they happened in my area. My crutches slowed me down a bit, but after the amputation, I am much faster.” 

  

Eli (42) lives in Lod and is a father to two children. He rushes out to emergencies with his private car, which was altered to account for his disability. 

 

“I recall one medical emergency that I responded to very clearly in my mind. The dispatchers alerted me to an incident in which a baby was choking. I dropped everything and rushed over. I found a baby who was just eight months old, blue and not breathing. I immediately began to treat the child and saw a small piece of food come out of his mouth. The baby began to breathe again and started to cry. That was the greatest sound that I have heard in a long time.”   

 

“I won’t say that walking or running to an emergency is an easy thing,”  Almoznino said. “Walking on a prosthetic leg is not easy at all. But I do it. I walk and I can carry a backpack or a medical kit, whatever is needed. I have to persevere because I won’t give up on my dream, which is the most important thing to me, and that is to always help others and be there for them when they have an emergency. Whether that is as an EMT or commanding the Search and Rescue Unit, it is my passion to help others whenever they need help.” 

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Rescuing People On Golda Meir Boulevard

The Ramot intersection on Golda Meir Boulevard in Jerusalem is known as being a very problematic intersection where many accidents occur. Recently one Wednesday night, a serious 4-way collision was reported at the Ramot Junction in Jerusalem. Aharon Eichler who lives in Givat Zeev and often drives by the intersection on his way too and from work, was nearby when the accident occurred. He received the alert from United Hatzalah’s Dispatch and Command Center and immediately flipped on the lights and sirens and weaved deftly through the backed-up line of cars to make it to the scene in the fastest time possible.

 

Bits of metal and broken glass lay littered across the pavement in the aftermath of the crash, and the front of the car was crumpled like an accordion. Both were evidence of the violent force of impact. Aharon quickly got to work, providing initial treatment and triage as additional United Hatzalah EMTs joined him on the scene. Together with the crew of a United Hatzalah Mobile Intensive Care Unit, Aharon helped stabilize and evacuate two of the victims to the trauma unit at Hadassah Ein Kerem medical center for further care. 

 

In another accident on the very same highway just 2 weeks prior, a driver noticed she had a flat tire and pulled over at the side of the road. The woman was scared to open the door due to the speed of traffic and awaited roadside assistance. It turned out she was right to be concerned – when a female police officer arrived to help she was herself struck by an oncoming motorist, who failed to notice the emergency vehicle’s flashing lights. The officer sustained a serious head wound and the car was sent crashing down the roadway, smashing into other vehicles and injuring multiple people. Here too, Aharon arrived in a flash on his ambucycle to provide emergency trauma care for the police officer and other accident victims.

 

“Aharon is a dedicated volunteer who stops whatever he is doing to rush out and save lives. In one of the most dangerous intersections in the city, Aharon regularly helps those injured in a myriad of accidents that occur there. Whenever he is nearby to an emergency, he will drop everything and rush out to save a life. That is who Aaron is. He is one of the many heroes that I am happy to have volunteering for United Hatzalah,” said President and Founder of United Hatzalah Eli Beer. 

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French Immigrant Become First Tel Aviv Woman To Ride An Ambucycle

Aely Haccoun immigrated from France to Israel eight years ago. Like most immigrants, she worked hard to learn the language, find a job and an apartment in a good neighborhood and has been happy living in Tel Aviv, the city she now calls home. One of the things that make Aely unique is that after moving to Israel she also chose to become a United Hatzalah volunteer and rushes out to save lives whenever an emergency occurs in her vicinity. Making her even more unique, is that she recently became the first woman in Tel Aviv to drive one of the organization’s iconic ambucycles.

Aely with her ambucycle. – Photo Credit: Karel Serfaty

Aely, who became the third woman in the country to drive an ambucycle, following in the footsteps of Sophie Donio from Eilat and Sanaa Mahameed from Umm al-Fahm works, as a project manager whose expertise focuses on resource development and cross-organizational partnerships in the non-profit sector. She joined United Hatzalah over a year-and-a-half ago and volunteers as one of 5,000 EMTs, paramedics and doctors who assist anyone in need of emergency medical care for free. In addition to becoming an ambucycle driver, Aely is currently completing a course to become an ambulance driver as well.

When asked why she chose to volunteer as an EMT with United Hatzalah Aely replied: “I’ve known about the organization for some time and I’ve seen their volunteers rushing to emergencies and providing emergency medical help to anyone in need. I was looking to volunteer for an organization that was out of the box. I wanted to help others in a significant and positive way so that I could help make Israel a better place to live. I fell in love with the ideals on which United Hatzalah was founded, which are providing fast and free medical care to anyone who needs it regardless of race, nationality, religion, gender or socio-economic standing. I’ve always loved helping others and there is no better way to do that than by saving a life.”

Two years ago Aely witnessed a CPR in progress which was the catalyst for her to take the leap and enroll in an EMT training course. “I saw a woman collapse and I had no idea what to do. Volunteers from United Hatzalah arrived within minutes and began CPR on the woman. All I could do was stand and watch as they tried for 45 minutes to save the woman’s life. After almost an hour the paramedic in charge of the scene began preparing the woman’s family to receive the news that they were going to stop CPR.

He went up to the woman’s son and told him: “In these cases, only a miracle can save her.” He had just finished the words and the monitor that was attached to the woman began chirping alerting the crew that the woman had regained a pulse. It was at this moment that I knew what I had to do to make Israel and the world a better placeץ  I had to become an EMT and save lives,. I promised myself that I would never again sit on the sidelines and watch without being able to help. The next day I called United Hatzalah and enrolled in a course.”

Aely now goes on approximately 60 emergency calls per month and has merited to save countless people. “It never gets old. The knowledge that you are helping someone else who cannot help themselves and that what you are doing can make the difference between life and death is the greatest sensation that there is.”

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Jerusalem Honors Local EMS Volunteers For Saving Lives

The Jerusalem Municipality honored exemplary first responders on Thursday at a special ceremony that took place at City Hall. Among the honorees presented with citations from the city for their exemplary service were select volunteers from the police, fire department, ambulance organizations and the United Hatzalah EMS organization. Chosen from among the more than 400 United Hatzalah first responders in the city, four were chosen for having gone above and beyond the call of duty.

Photo credit: Shira Hershkop

The four recipients who are all residents of the capital city were David Selach, Noa Zohar, Avraham Becker and Sami Darwish, who hails from the Muslim community of Beit Zafafa.

David Selach has been a United Hatzalah volunteer for the past eight years. In addition to being a very active EMT, Selach runs the organization’s ambulance system and logistics for the Jerusalem region. One recent Friday while preparing for Shabbat, Selach rushed out of his home in Ramot to save a choking baby who was  8-months-old. The emergency took place just two blocks from where Selach lives. He arrived in less than 90 seconds and found the infant lying on the kitchen table with severe asphyxiation. Selach began performing CPR on the infant and succeeded in removing the object that was blocking the child’s airway. As the child began to utter a sharp cry, Selach knew that the worst danger had passed and that the child would live.

David Selach receives his award (Credit: Shira Hershkop)

Noa Zohar is 35-years-old, married and a mother of four. She lives in the Romema neighborhood of Jerusalem and in addition to being a volunteer EMT for more than 20 years, she heads United Hatzalah’s education department. A few months ago she heard a knock on her door one night. It was well after midnight when the interruption came. A worried father was clutching his daughter who was one-and-a-half-years-old. The girl was not breathing and unconscious. Noa immediately shook off sleep and performed CPR on the young girl. She succeeded at bringing a pulse back and saved the girls life. Additionally, Noa has successfully delivered eight babies during unexpected home births in the past year alone. Noa’s dedication, sensitivity and professionalism, together with her decades of experience, are seen in every medical emergency that she responds to on a daily basis.

Noa Zohar receives her award (Credit: Shira Hershkop)

Avraham Becker is 27-years-old and lives in Pisgat Ze’ev. He works with the police and has been a United Hatzalah volunteer EMT and ambucycle driver for the past seven years. He also volunteers as one of the organization’s ambulance drivers and as part of the Ten Kavod project working to ensure the health and safety of the city’s elderly. Two months ago, when he was heading home from work one evening, he received an emergency alert regarding a 50-year-old unconscious man. Avraham was just three streets over from the man’s location and rushed to the scene. He performed CPR on the unconscious man and utilized the defibrillator that is standard in ambucycles. After a few minutes of CPR that included shocks from the defibrillator, the patient’s heart began beating once again and he began breathing. The man woke up a few days later in the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.

Avraham Becker receives his award (Credit: Shira Hershkop)

Sami Darwish is 58-years-old and married with four children. He lives in Beit Sefafa and works as a contractor. Sami has been a United Hatzalah volunteer for the past five years. In addition to being an EMT, Sami works with the organization’s emergency room assistance program and volunteers extra shifts in Hadassah Ein Kerem. He also drives one of the organization’s ambulances every week on Shabbat in order to provide coverage for both the Jewish and Muslim neighborhoods in the city.

Sami Darwish receives his award (Credit: Shira Hershkop)

A few months ago, Sami was driving one of the ambulances on Shabbat and responded to two separate emergency calls of Jewish women who were unable to make it to the hospital in time to give birth. Thanks to his speedy arrival, both babies were safely delivered at home with the help of his medical assistance. Both the babies and mothers joined the hundreds of others that Sami has successfully treated over the past year.

By choosing to honor these volunteers who hail from different neighborhoods and backgrounds for the lifesaving work that they do every day, the city of Jerusalem also effectively honored and paid tribute to the organization’s diversity and the work of all United Hatzalah volunteers who help others when they need it most.

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Following A Medical Emergency One EMT Became A Kindergarten Teacher For A Day

This past Monday, a medical emergency took place in Haifa that ended with an interesting twist. United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Raphael Israel was on his way to his Mechanical engineering class at the Technion University when he received an emergency alert from the organization’s dispatch center that notified him about a medical emergency occurring at his son’s kindergarten.

Raphael Israel outside of the Kindergarten where the incident took place

Raphael rushed over and was the first responder at the scene. He found one of the two kindergarten teachers lying down in a room by herself complaining that she wasn’t feeling well. The second teacher had already ushered the children out of the room so that Raphael could treat the ill woman.

The experienced EMT quickly took the woman’s vital signs and discovered that she had high blood pressure. He treated her for her condition and stayed with her until the ambulance arrived some ten minutes later. As the ambulance drove away, Raphael looked around and saw the remaining teacher overburdened with maintaining calm among her 25 charges. Raphael asked her when a replacement for the first teacher would arrive.

The remaining teacher called the offices of the daycare and asked that a replacement teacher be sent. They said it would take about an hour for her to arrive. Hearing this, Raphael realized his job was not over.

“There was nothing else to do but offer a helping hand. I couldn’t leave the teacher alone by herself with 25 children to look after. I took off my vest and went into the daycare and began to play with the children,” Raphael said during an interview sometime later. “I missed the class I was supposed to be at, but I’ll make it up. Taking care of these children was something that was far more important.”

Raphael described the experience of switching from EMT to a kindergarten teacher. “We played tag, color tag, sang together and had a great time. I forgot how to play some of these games and the children reminded me. It brought a smile to their faces and to mine. Everyone called me Gavriel’s father…. It was a special day.”

While it was plenty of fun, Raphael also said that it was hard work. “I doff my cap to any kindergarten teacher. I learned that their work is very intense and that running around after 25 children is not so simple. Even though it was tiring, it was also very inspiring. The whole situation exemplified the work of helping others when they need it. Not only did I get to help someone who was sick, but I also lent a hand to care for all these wonderful children and to got to play with them.”

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Saving My Own Mother

United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Noa Salant was shocked when she responded to an emergency incident to find her mother to be the patient in need of medical care.

EMT Noa Salant and her mother after the rescue

The family was supposed to get together for some quality time and both Noa and her mother were arriving by bicycle from different locations. “As I was driving, I heard screams from up ahead of me and saw a few people standing around someone lying on the street,” said Salant sometime after the incident which occurred two weeks ago.

When Salant arrived at the scene she saw a very familiar woman lying on the sidewalk injured-  her mother. “I immediately went into EMT mode and began triaging her. I took her pulse while simultaneously calling for an ambulance. I asked the people around her if anyone saw what happened and all they would share was that she fell.”

Salant relived the dramatic moments of the treatment. “I noticed that my mother could not move her pelvis. I began treating her for her injuries and immobilizing her so that none of the injuries would get worse. Other volunteers from United Hatzalah began arriving and they assisted me in providing treatment. When the ambulance came some ten minutes later, I joined the team on the ambulance and kept watch over my mother the entire way to the hospital. When we arrived at the emergency room we found out that she had broken her hip.”

Salant spent the next few days visiting and caring for her mother in the hospital. “The doctors told us that this is the type of injury where there is no corrective surgery and that the best medicine is to keep my mother stable and her spirits up in order to give her body time to heal. They added that the care I gave at the scene prevented the injury from getting worse. It is thanks to the training that I received from United Hatzalah that I was able to keep my cool and follow all the procedures and protocols necessary even though I was treating my own mother,” Salant concluded.

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