Send in the Clowns

“One of the more interesting things about being a volunteer first responder is that you never know when or in what situation you will be when you will receive an emergency call. Whenever that call comes, you drop everything and rush out. Naturally, sometimes it can catch you at moments that are less than convenient.

My name is Yishai David Turgeman and I am United Hatzalah volunteer first responder. Last Friday, after volunteering as a medical clown, I was on my way to a wedding and decided to leave my clown costume on as entertainment for the bride and groom. Backtracking a little bit, my sister was killed not so long ago in a car accident, and in her memory, my parents donated money to members of our community to help newly married couples be able to afford weddings. This was one of the weddings that benefited from that donation. So for me and my family, this was already a very special occasion.

Yishai Turgeman after the call

After the wedding, I headed home to my apartment in Tel Aviv and just as I was taking off the costume, the United Hatzalah emergency application alerted me to a car accident that had just taken place a few streets away from my apartment. From the information provided, I learned that it was a serious car accident, which is often a matter of life and death.  I didn’t think twice about going. When I was a soldier, we used to call these moments “bowl flippers” the times when even if you are eating you rush out and accidentally flip your bowl over but don’t stop to clean it up, you just keep going.

I ran downstairs and jumped on my ambucycle and raced to the location the accident. I arrived as one of the first responders at the scene. I began treating one of the injured people who was lying in the street and I see that the person is still in the process of understanding what exactly just happened to him. A C-Collar was placed on his neck and he was looking up at the sky. I followed protocol to the letter and began taking an oral history of his injuries. I asked him where it hurt in order to see where his injuries were so that I could begin treatment. When he saw me he smiled and didn’t even ask why I was dressed funny. He just assumed it had something to do with the upcoming Jewish holiday of Purim (which is celebrated all throughout Israel by people wearing costumes and often makeup or masks).

Luckily for me, the holiday was right around the corner, because otherwise, I would be stuck at a large scale trauma scene dressed in sparkles and rouge. Go try explaining that one to the patients or your fellow responders.

I for one am glad that the holiday is so widely celebrated as it didn’t take any time away from providing the much-needed treatment to my patient. On the contrary, it raised the spirits of everyone at the scene. It was so effective even in a trauma scene as scary as a serious car accident, that I am thinking about adopting it permanently.

I wish all of the injured a speedy recovery and a happy and healthy holiday.”

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