On Monday evening, just before 6:00 p.m., a 43-year-old man had gone to The New Cemetery in Be’er Sheva to visit his mother’s grave when he suddenly suffered a cardiac arrest and collapsed. United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Ariel Pahima works at the cemetery as a logistics and maintenance worker during the day. However, Ariel, who had been home that day, had left his house a short time earlier in order to respond to a different medical emergency that had occurred nearby on Hartsit Street. He had just finished treating his patient when he received the emergency alert about the cardiac arrest at the cemetery.
As he passed off his patient to the ambulance team, Ariel didn’t waste a minute before jumping onto his ambucycle and rushing to his place of work.
Arriving just three minutes later, Ariel pulled up just ahead of the ambulance that was responding to the incident and led the team through navigating the narrow roads of the large cemetery to locate the collapsed man. Ariel and the ambulance team found the 43-year-old unconscious on the ground. After checking his vital signs, Ariel could not find a pulse and saw that the man wasn’t breathing.
Ariel began chest compressions as the team launched into CPR. A defibrillator was attached and two shocks were administered. 10 minutes after the second shock, and after additional rounds of chest compressions and assisted breathing, the man’s pulse returned.
As the man was loaded onto the ambulance, he regained full consciousness. Ariel’s familiar face comforted the patient, who he recognized from his mother’s burial, as he was taken to the hospital. As the ambulance drove away, United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Avi Heiman, who was coming from the other side of the city, arrived at the scene. Ariel briefed Avi on what happened, and the two joked about the irony before each returning to their homes.
“In the five years I’ve worked at the cemetery, I have never had an incident of cardiac arrest on the grounds themselves. I find it ironic that the first time that there was one, I wasn’t there to help immediately,” Ariel said. “Honestly, I was afraid that the one time I wasn’t at the cemetery to respond to the emergency, it could end in a fatality. Thankfully, I wasn’t too far and was able to make it back on time.”
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