I remember the incident like it was yesterday. Some incidents you simply don’t forget, especially when they involved the birth of your first son.
On July 11th, I was at home in Zichron Yaakov with my very pregnant wife when she began feeling contractions. We gathered our birthing bags that we had prepared for the hospital and began to head to the car. She was walking slowly, stopping to breathe when she needed to and I was rushing around making sure everything we needed was packed and in the car. I went back to help her up for the final trip to the car when I received an emergency dispatch from United Hatzalah’s national dispatch and command center that a child was choking nearby. For the first time in my EMS career I froze.
On the one hand a child was choking and needed assistance, and that was a matter of life or death that required an immediate response. On the other hand, my wife was in the middle of labor with our first child and she needed me as well. I had no idea what to do. I looked at my wife, my face full of indecision.
My wife has always been proud and supportive of my being an EMS responder but this time she did something so unexpected that I am not sure if there is any way to repay her. My wife too had heard the call come in on my radio and she made the decision for me. She said one word, “Go!” I did a double take asking her if she was sure, and she reassured me that there was still time until she would give birth and that the boy needed my help more and his need was more urgent.
I rushed outside to where my ambucycle was parked, got on and raced to the location. I arrived just a moment later and found an eighteen-month-old boy convulsing on the floor. The initial report of a choking victim was mistaken. As I began to assess the child, it became clear that the toddler’s high temperature was causing the febrile seizures and I knew I had to lower the boy’s temperature in order to prevent brain damage.
I applied damp towels and monitored his temperature. As it slowly began to decline I breathed a sigh of relief. Other EMS responders arrived and I appraised them of the situation. What seemed like an eternity later an ambulance arrived. By that time the boy’s vitals had normalized. I helped transfer the boy into the ambulance and then I took off for home all the way praying that my wife was alright.
I got to my house, parked my ambucycle and rushed inside. I saw her still sitting where I left her as I walked in she smiled and asked with her eyes. I answered with a nod of my head and said, “Let’s take care of us.” I helped her up, accompanied her to our car and drove her to the hospital. Several hours later I became a father for the first time, to a healthy baby boy.
I’ve always known how incredibly empowering it is to be an EMS responder. To be able to do something meaningful with my spare time is inspiring in of itself. But on that day, it became so much more to me. The day my son was born, I learned the lesson that all parents know. I learned that If it were my son who heaven forbid was the one having the seizures, I as a father would want the best care for my son. I would want trained EMS responders to drop whatever they were doing and rush to my son’s aid. I think my wife knew that intuitively as well. That is why she told me to go help that boy, perhaps it will be the first lesson to my son. It certainly was a lesson for me.