Saving An Unconscious Man In The Old City of Jerusalem

On Tuesday evening, at 5:00 p.m. in Jerusalem, a 56-year-old man was taking a nap when his daughter came to check on him and found him blue-faced and unconscious with an empty bottle of pills by his bed. The frantic daughter quickly called United Hatzalah’s Dispatch and Command Center. Dispatchers alerted all volunteers in the area of the emergency which occurred in the Christian Quarter of the Old City.

A United Hatzalah ambulance in the old city of Jerusalem

Emanuel Tamam, one of the volunteers who received the alert, was in central Jerusalem when his communications device alerted him to the medical emergency. Emanuel plugged the address into Waze, since it was during rush hour, and saw that it was 20 minutes away. With determination and faith that his ambucycle would navigate the traffic, Emanuel drove off.

Another volunteer to receive the alert was United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Yaffa Hayman, who was at her home in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City when her communications device buzzed. Yaffa noticed a neighbor of hers, who was a paramedic, was dispatched as well to the emergency, confirming to her that this was a serious emergency. Yaffa picked up her medical bag and ran out with her neighbor.

Arriving first with the paramedic and another United Hatzalah EMT, Yaffa arrived at the man’s apartment and found him on the bed, pulseless. The team lifted the man and placed him on the floor to begin CPR.

The EMT attached a defibrillator from his bag, which did not advise a shock. With the guidance of the paramedic, the three began chest compressions. As the team was engaged in CPR, additional EMTs and an ambulance crew began arriving at the scene, along with Emanuel, who had managed to navigate the tight city streets quickly thanks to his ambucycle.

Once the paramedic had EMTs performing CPR on the man, she took the opportunity to ask the daughter what had happened. When it became clear that this was an instance of an overdose, the paramedic administered a dose of Narcan, in an attempt to reverse the effects of the pills.

Just 20 seconds after the Narcan was administered, the 56-year-old’s pulse returned. The EMTs stopped performing CPR as he regained his pulse but continued with assisted ventilation until the man was able to breathe on his own. By the time the mobile intensive ambulance arrived, the man was almost fully aware and breathing on his own, able to answer the crew’s questions.

“I remember arriving and immediately launching into CPR,” said Yaffa. “As an EMT, we followed protocol and that kept him alive until the medication could be administered.”

After regaining consciousness, the man was in severe pain, and so the mobile intensive care ambulance team sedated the man and then intubated him for transport to the hospital.

“By the time things were done, there were a good number of medical personnel at the scene, and our efforts were facilitated by incredible teamwork,” commented Emanuel. “It’s because of that teamwork and cooperation that the paramedic was able to administer the right drug to return the man to consciousness. I’m glad I was able to take part in such an ensemble and help save this man’s life. The old city is problematic due to its narrow and slippery roads. Thankfully I was able to arrive in a short time thanks to my ambucycle. Had I been in a car, I would never have made it in time.”

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