On Tuesday afternoon, just after 3:00 p.m., a man in his fifties was swimming in the community pool in Beit Shemesh. The man began to feel faint and grabbed one of the ropes on the side of the swimming lane showing signs of distress. Another swimmer coming from the opposite direction in the lane saw the man in distress, got out of the pool, and pulled the man up out of the water and onto solid ground. The helpful swimmer called the lifeguard over and a defibrillator was attached as eye-witnesses called emergency services for help.
United Hatzalah volunteers who live and work in the vicinity received the emergency alert. Among them were two sisters Yocheved Bienenstock and Susan Duker, who both made aliyah to Israel from Toronto, Canada, and a close friend of theirs Sara Zimbalist, who also immigrated to Israel from Teaneck, New Jersey.
The three women arrived in quick succession just moments after the emergency call was made. The trio rushed over to the collapsed man and checked his vital signs. Finding no pulse the team initiated CPR. Yocheved began compressions as Susan and Sara worked on inserting an airway, attaching oxygen, and administering assisted ventilation. They spent five minutes alternating between compressions and assisted breathing before an ambulance showed up. During that time other EMTs from United Hatzalah arrived and joined in the effort.
When the mobile intensive care unit arrived, the paramedics hooked the man up to a heart monitor and found that his pulse had returned, the CPR had been a success. The combined team prepared the man for transport, loaded him into the ambulance which rushed the man to the hospital.
“I don’t know what happened to the man afterward,” said Yocheved, formerly a Wohlgelernter, “but I know that we did everything we could to save his life including bringing his pulse back.”
Susan added, “It wasn’t quite clear what caused the man to suddenly feel ill. From what we were told by the man who pulled him from the water he had grabbed the rope, began to struggle to catch his breath and then looked like he was going to drown. Based on the lack of a pulse it seems that this may have been a cardiac arrest. One thing we know for certain, we gave him a fighting chance at life and I’m thankful that I was able to be there and to help. Doing so with my sister made the feeling even greater. I feel that Yocheved always has my back so I am more confident responding to emergencies knowing she is with me.”
Sara spoke about how special it is to have the opportunity to save lives in Israel: “My family and I just celebrated our 16th Aliyah Anniversary last week. To be part of United Hatzalah and taking part in a successful CPR in Israel is not anything I would have imagined being part of when I made Aliyah. But being here and being able to help others is truly very special to me.”
Susan concluded by adding a similar sentiment and said, “When I was living in Toronto, I never thought I’d be responding to medical emergencies. Living in Israel builds a strong sense of social responsibility and a desire to contribute to the larger community as a whole. Canada is a beautiful place but Israel has my heart.”
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