On Tuesday night, as Rocket fire from the Gaza Strip rained down on Israel, United Hatzalah volunteers continued responding to medical emergencies wherever and whenever they occurred. In the city of Givat Shmuel, located a few kilometers northeast of Tel Aviv, the air raid sirens began to wail just before 9:00 p.m. alerting the residents that they had become a target for the rockets and that they needed to take cover. The head of the local United Hatzalah chapter, Asher Tzvi Shwed, was at his home with his family and quickly collected his sleeping children, together with his wife, and rushed them to the bomb shelter. As the family waited for the siren to end, Asher Tzvi’s emergency communications device began to blare, alerting Asher Tzvi to a medical emergency occurring near his location.
Less than a Kilometer away from Asher Tzvi’s home, a 46-year-old man was jogging in a soccer field prior to the air raid siren when he suddenly collapsed. The soccer team that was playing at the field witnessed the man’s collapse which coincided with the siren. They weren’t sure if the man had collapsed out of shock from hearing the siren or from the stress of the exercise. They called United Hatzalah’s Dispatch and Command Center for help.
Asher Tzvi looked at his wife and family and made sure they were safe and well before racing out to his ambucycle, wearing protective headgear and his bulletproof vest.
Arriving less than a minute later at the soccer field, Asher Tzvi found the group of soccer players crowded around the unconscious man, together with two members of the local search and rescue team who had been in the vicinity. The soccer team members had used the defibrillator at the field, equipped by the town council, and administered one shock. Asher Tzvi quickly took over the CPR effort and began chest compressions. Just then a second air raid siren sounded. The team paused CPR to move to a more secure location near the wall of the stadium in order to take cover.
“The sirens never stopped,” Asher Tzvi said. “It was complicated because one minute I was performing CPR and the next I was on the ground covering my head. We were completely exposed at the field, and we were able to see the rockets flying above you, most being intercepted by the iron dome system.”
Asher Tzvi was quickly joined by additional medical personnel, and 2 more shocks were administered from the defibrillator. The team continued with compressions and provided assisted ventilation. A few minutes later, a mobile intensive care ambulance arrived, and the paramedic administered adrenaline. An IV line was attached as well, and the man’s pulse returned but was unstable. The 46-year-old was then loaded into the ambulance, still pulseless, and was taken to the nearest hospital while still undergoing CPR.
“It was terrifying to perform CPR in an open field during a rocket attack,” Asher Tzvi added. “Rockets were flying over our heads non-stop and the siren kept going. We were performing compressions while wearing bulletproof helmets and vests and that too was tiring. What was even more terrifying was that we heard the explosions, as rockets were falling and being intercepted by the Iron Dome battery. I did it because a person’s life was on the line and I was hoping to help him live in spite of the dangers all around us. In my ten years of volunteering as a first responder, I have never done anything like this before, and it is an experience that I will never forget.”
Asher Tzvi and the other first responders returned home safely to their families after the man was transported to the hospital.
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