Yehezkel Gabay is a United Hatzalah volunteer EMT hailing from the city of Tzfat (Safed). A few weeks ago, Yehezkel was learning Talmud in his local synagogue when he received an alert from his communications device, notifying him about a medical emergency occurring right near his location. Although Yehezkel rarely gets a chance to catch up on his learning, the dedicated volunteer closed his book and rushed outside to his ambucycle.
While Yehezkel was on his way, another United Hatzalah volunteer contacted Yehezkel and explained to him that he was at the location of the incident. Passers-by told him that they saw a woman fall from a window at the top floor of an apartment building, but there was no body on the ground. Recognizing the address and the description of the building, Yehezkel sped up and arrived in less than 3 minutes.
Upon arrival, Yehezkel met the EMT already on scene and found a crowd of confused and terrified people gathered around the building. Yehezkel, who is a building and construction contractor by trade, knew the layout of the building well and recalled that there was a protruding porch a few floors down from where the woman jumped. With no time to spare, Yehezkel quickly grabbed his medical bag and began climbing up the building walls and over railings until he reached the porch of one of the apartments. Sure enough, there lay the young victim, a bloodied and semi-conscious 25-year-old woman who had suffered severe injuries to her hands and face due to the fall. Yechezkel immediately radioed to dispatch the exact location of the victim, saving precious response time so that other responders and the ambulance crew could arrive more quickly at the scene.
Yehezkel then immediately began treating the woman’s multiple injuries, as other United Hatzalah responders arrived to help. The team bandaged wounds, affixed a neck brace, and opened up an IV line as part of the trauma treatment protocol. When one of the EMTs brought a backboard, Yechezekel directed the careful stabilization and placement of the patient onto the board and directed as the team carried her off of the porch to the intensive care ambulance. The woman was then transported to Ziv Medical Center of Tzfat for further emergency care.
Afterward, Yehezkel came back to the porch to find out what had transpired above during the woman’s fall. Upon close observation, it became clear to Yehezkel that the woman survived due to what can only be described as a miracle. The woman, who had fallen out of one of the top stories of the building landed 5 stories below on a sheet metal roof that covered a porch. The relatively thin metal roof buckled under the woman’s weight, effectively mitigating the impact and saving her from near-certain death. The woman then rolled off the roof and dropped one more story to the porch below, where Yechezkel had found her. Yechezkel recalled that about 10 years ago, he had built that very roof himself.
“When I get to a location of a medical emergency, I do whatever I can to act quickly because I know that time is of the essence and every second counts,” said Yehezkel. “I followed my instinct and scaled the building even though it isn’t usual to see an EMT climb up the side of a building carrying a medical bag. I hadn’t realized that I was accessing an old memory of building to that very same metal roof that I had built a decade before. Something inside of me knew she had fallen there, and even though I wasn’t consciously aware of it at the time my instinct told me to scale the building. That is how I used time and memory to my advantage and I ended up saving a life.”
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