Saving A Life On The Edge Of A Cliff

United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Moshe Raveh was attending to a medical emergency in the town of Shlomi on Shabbat afternoon and was just packing up his equipment after having finished treating the patient when he received another emergency alert regarding a life-threatening incident near the Keshet Cave. In spite of being more than nine kilometers away, Moshe was identified as one of the closest first responders to the incident. He left the building where the previous patient was being loaded into the ambulance, jumped on his ambucycle, and raced down the highway to the cave. Moshe parked his ambucycle at the entrance to the park where the trail began and continued down the path on foot hoping to find where the incident took place. 

Moshe Raveh on the edge of the cliff waiting for the approaching IDF helicopter to medevac the fallen and injured girl

“After quickly walking down the path for a few minutes, I arrived at an area where the path makes a sharp turn that if you miss, you can fall over the edge of the cliff,” recounted Raveh. “I noticed that there was a tourist group on the trial and a man was standing at the edge of the cliff and told me that his daughter had fallen into the ravine below. A police officer had also arrived and asked if I knew the path and if I could accompany him down the cliff-side. As a local resident,  I knew the path down to into the ravine and I took the police officer and another bystander who had offered to help, down the path.”

 

Raveh and those who accompanied him found the girl on the edge of a precipice, unconscious, and unresponsive. “The first thing we did was move her away from the cliff so that neither she nor we would fall. We brought her to a wide outcropping of rock where we could lie her down and begin treating her. We were worried about the steep drop on one side of us and not falling over the edge, and also worried about the gathered crowd on the cliff above us knocking rocks down on top of us. At the same time, we had to treat the girl for her injuries.” 

 

It took Moshe more than half an hour to arrive at the park and reach the girl from the time that the emergency alert had gone out. “I don’t know exactly how long she had been lying there before I got to her, but it was at least 30 minutes,” Raveh said. “I tried to open her mouth to insert an oropharyngeal airway so that I could more easily provide enriching oxygen to help her, but she was suffering a major spasm in her jaw due to the fall and we could not open her mouth. I placed the mask over her mouth and nose and turned the oxygen on. It took some time for other rescue forces to arrive. Once there was a paramedic at the scene, he sedated her, and only then were we able to open her mouth to insert the oropharyngeal airway.”

 

Raveh continued to retell his account of the dramatic rescue. “We managed to stabilize her at the scene and then the IDF’s Search and Rescue Unit 669 arrived with a helicopter to medevac the girl to Rambam hospital in Haifa. The whole operation took close to three hours. I responded to the incident around 2:00 p.m. and I only returned home in time for Arvit (the evening prayer at the end of Shabbat). My family told me that they were curious as to where I was but after they prayed they turned on the TV and saw the incident reported on the news and knew exactly where I was and what I had done.” 

 

Raveh said that the incident, while not his first serious trauma incident, still was a bit unusual. “I’ve been an EMT for a long time. I’ve already responded to plenty of medical emergencies where I was the first responder at the scene for a long time and had to treat a seriously injured patient by myself. Today’s incident was no different from that respect. However, it was certainly challenging and difficult to reach the girl on the edge of a cliff and treat her there without being able to get her any other help until the helicopter arrived to transport her. While it is not how I imagined spending my Shabbat Chanukah afternoon, I am very happy that I was able to go and that I had the training and equipment necessary to help save her life and stabilize her while we waited for transport.”  

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