On Shabbat morning in the neighborhood of Neve Yaakov, a rabbi at one of the local shuls suffered a cardiac incident and collapsed on the floor. The incident took place just after the Torah reading had concluded. One of the congregants, Daniel Katzenstein, a former community rabbi in his own right and a volunteer EMT with United Hatzalah, was also at the prayer service and worried congregants immediately called him over to come and help.
Daniel threw off his tallis and rushed over to the collapsed rabbi. “I saw that the rabbi was still breathing and had a pulse,” Daniel recounted. He then grabbed his emergency communication device that he carries with him at all times, even on Shabbat, and called United Hatzalah’s dispatch center and requested that additional volunteers, an ambulance, and an advanced life support (ALS) team be sent to his location.
Daniel asked a young man that knew the lock combination to the closet where they keep the emergency medical equipment in the shul, to go and open the closet and bring him the medical kit. Another United Hatzalah volunteer EMT arrived and the pair of responders provided oxygen for the rabbi. Yoni Rosenfeld, a volunteer paramedic for United Hatzalah arrived and joined in the treatment.
A few minutes later a mobile intensive care ambulance arrived and the team transported the rabbi to the ambulance. “Yoni correctly pointed out that while we could continue to treat the rabbi in the shul, it would be more appropriate for him and the congregants to continue the treatment in the ambulance,” Daniel said.
Once inside the ambulance, the rabbi’s pulse disappeared and the team switched to performing CPR. “I began performing chest compressions on my own rabbi for two minutes before we thankfully brought it back,” Daniel said. “We managed to stabilize the rabbi, and intubated and sedated him. Once he was stable, the ambulance team, which was short-staffed, asked Daniel to stay on board during the transport to help continue treatment during the ride to the hospital.”
Daniel chose to stay in the hospital to advocate for the rabbi and support the rabbi’s son who came with the ambulance team to the hospital as well. “They opened up the trauma room in order to make sure that they were able to properly diagnose and treat him. Until now there still isn’t a clear-cut diagnosis as to what caused the rabbi to collapse. But being able to be there for him and help treat him not only gave me comfort in the knowledge that I was able to help bring his pulse back but also gave comfort and hope to the rest of the congregation knowing that I was there to help.”
As the day wore on, Daniel went to pray mincha at the shul in the hospital and saw another United Hatzalah volunteer who lives close by, at the minyan. The second volunteer invited Daniel to his house for lunch and a much-needed rest. After Daniel recuperated from the traumatic morning, he went back to the hospital to check on the rabbi’s condition. “There was no improvement and the rabbi was still in serious condition but stable,” Daniel recalled. “That is pretty much how he stayed until the end of Shabbat when I headed home. He is stable, he has a good chance of survival, and I am thankful that I was there to help him.”
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