On Friday morning at around 9:00 a.m., a 35-year-old man suddenly lost consciousness in his room in a hostel in Tel Aviv. Guests of the establishment called emergency services for help as the man was not responding to them, and they were unsure what to do.
United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Tzadik Hakal was riding his ambucycle on his way to work when he was alerted to the emergency in the hostel. He immediately turned on his flashing lights, deviated from his initial direction, and rushed to the address.
United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Yisrael Chanukah was likewise riding his ambucycle on his way to the shuk in Tel Aviv to pick up some groceries for Shabbat, when he too was alerted to the emergency, flicking on his sirens, Yisrael also rushed to make it to the location as fast as he could.
Both the volunteers arrived within 40 seconds after receiving the alert. They ran upstairs to the room where the man lay on the floor. After checking his vitals and finding no pulse or breathing, they realized they would have to start resuscitative efforts. The room was narrow and too crowded to perform CPR properly, so Tzadik and Yisrael carried him out to the communal living space and laid him flat on the ground where they could work.
As Tzadik initiated chest compressions, Yisrael took out his defibrillator, connected the machine and applied the stickers to the man’s chest. After only a minute and a half of compressions, the EMTs noticed the patient had started exuding long shallow breaths. They checked another time for a pulse and were surprised to find one, albeit weak. The EMTs were ecstatic but recognized that they still needed to stabilize their patient. Yisrael lifted up the patient’s legs and propped them up on a pillow while Tzadik provided oxygen in hopes of improving the man’s breathing. They continuously kept track of their patient’s vitals throughout this process.
After a few minutes their efforts paid off and the patient maintained a steady pulse and even began breathing independently. As the patient stabilized, an intensive care ambulance team arrived. After hearing that the man lost consciousness due to a suspected drug overdose, the paramedic inserted an IV and administered fluids and medications to neutralize the drugs in his bloodstream.
“I realized that once we succeeded in restoring his pulse and his breathing, there was no reason he shouldn’t return to consciousness as well,” said Tzadik. With the supervision and authorization of the paramedic, Tzadik applied force to the two trapezius muscles between the shoulder and neck of the patient. Sure enough, with each touch the patient reacted to the pain. “When he jolted from the pressure, it told me that he was okay and he should really be conscious. When he was finally roused awake, the first words he said was, ‘enough, stop!’. We all laughed at this,” Tzadik admitted with a friendly smile.
What surprised the medical team even more was that the patient was well enough to walk himself into the ambulance and sit himself down for the ride to the hospital. Tzadik said enthusiastically, “It made me laugh at the irony of it all; it was just fantastic. The joy of helping save this young man stayed with me throughout Shabbat. We were all happy in the end.”
Yisrael chimed in and said, “This was all thanks to the incredible teamwork and our quick arrival. Had we not started CPR as fast as we did, there could have been a risk of him not coming back at all, or even if he did, he could have sustained serious brain damage. Those first few minutes are the most critical. Thank G-d, we succeeded in bringing this man back to life.”
Tzadik ended off with some heartfelt wishes, “I wish our patient a good recovery and a long rest of his life. For myself and my fellow United Hatzalah volunteers, I wish us as much success in every incident we go to and may we succeed in helping all of our patients recover.”
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