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3-Days-Old Baby Chokes on Breastmilk, Saved by United Hatzalah Volunteer EMT
Just before 2 PM on Wednesday a 3-day-old newborn choked on breastmilk at an apartment in north Tel Aviv. The baby and her mother had just gotten back from the hospital that day, and the panicked new mother immediately alerted emergency services.
United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Jeremy Hirsch was shopping in a nearby Superpharm when his communications device beeped, notifying him about a baby choking in the area. While he was wearing flip-flops, a bathing suit, and a tank top, the volunteer did not hesitate to drop everything and respond to the call. “I usually don’t go on calls when I’m dressed like this, but for a choking baby, I go no matter what,” he later recounted. “I’m a father, and I know what it means.”
He hurriedly left Superpharm and rushed on his bike to the apartment where the baby and his family were located, arriving just a few moments later. Upon approaching the building, Hirsch found the baby’s mother anxiously waiting downstairs. He asked about the baby’s condition and age. The mother said that her 3-day-old infant was still choking, causing Hirsch to spring into action with an extreme sense of urgency.
Inside the room were the mother, grandmother, and aunt, who was holding the baby in an upright position. Observing the infant’s distressing condition, Hirsch noted, “Bubbles were coming out of her nose, she was conscious but not breathing, her skin was dark red and turning purple in the lower extremities.”
Hirsch positioned the baby face down, making sure to always support the infant’s head and neck, and prepared to perform the necessary back blows to clear the airway. Suddenly, Hirsch felt something warm on his hands.
“I looked down on my hands and saw white fluids and understood that the baby had just expelled some of the milk she had choked on,” Hirsch explained.
Hirsch lifted the infant upright, and she began to cry and regain a normal color, signs of a cleared airway. As they waited for the intensive care ambulance to arrive, Hirsch handed the baby back to the mother and reassured her that the danger had passed and that the baby was safe once more.
The volunteer later said, “I respond to a lot of calls involving babies in my area. I had to perform the same maneuvers on my 6-month-old child once, and I know what it means for a parent to see their baby in this situation. I feel sorry that this is how this new mother’s first day out of hospital after the birth looked like but am glad I was able to be there to help.”