This morning, just before 3:00 a.m., a 56-year-old mother suffered a heart attack and collapsed at her home in Jerusalem. Her worried daughter called United Hatzalah’s Dispatch and command center for assistance. The dispatcher alerted the closest responders in the vicinity while instructing the daughter to begin performing chest compressions on her collapsed mother.

From right to left EMTs Aharon Ben Harush Naftali Shmerler Mordechai Dahan Eliezer Wagschall Mordechai Leibovitch Yosef Elimelech Roth Nissim Ben Schimol 1024x768 1
From right to left – EMTs Aharon Ben Harush, Naftali Shmerler, Mordechai Dahan, Eliezer Wagschall, Mordechai Leibovitch, Yosef Elimelech Roth, Nissim Ben Schimol (Avigail Beer took the photo)

United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Naftali Shmerler was burning the early morning oil and assisting a friend to empty his office on Rabenu Gershom Street in Jerusalem when he suddenly received the alert to the medical emergency occurring nearby. Shmerler apologized to his friend and rushed out to the given address a few blocks away on Eretz Hefetz Street. 

Shmerler ran up the five stories to the apartment and found a young woman performing chest compressions on her 56-year-old mother. The woman was receiving instructions from United Hatzalah’s dispatcher. Shmerler took over the compressions just as a second United Hatzalah volunteer, Eliezer Wagschall rushed in the door and attached a defibrillator. The defibrillator advised a shock and Eliezer administered it. 

Avigail Beer and Aharon Ben Harush were just a minute behind Wagshall. The Beer and Ben Harush had just finished an ambulance shift at the organization’s headquarters when they received the alert. They ran into the room and assisted in moving the woman to the salon to make space for a full CPR to take place. As first responders alternated between administering compressions, providing assisted breathing, and administering three shocks from the defibrillator, others joined the fight to save the woman’s life. A total of seven EMTs, as well as a paramedic from a mobile intensive care unit, arrived to assist. One of the responders, who was trained in psychological and emotional first aid as part of the organization’s Psychotrauma and Crisis Response team, approached the worried family members and calmed them down while taking an oral history. 

After just 12 minutes, the combined team, who worked together flawlessly, succeeded in bringing back the woman’s pulse. “As we were loading her onto the backboard and preparing to carry her down the five flights of stairs to the waiting ambulance, she opened her eyes, and tried to talk to us,” Shmerler recounted. “I told her that she was going to be okay and that she was being taken care of. It was very startling to her,” he added.

Shmerler said that he has performed several successful CPRs, one even quite recently. “This isn’t the first time I have saved a life, thank G-d. I have been a volunteer EMT for two years now and have been blessed to have already saved six or seven people. Each time it fills me with a sense of joy and renewal. There is no better way to start a day.” 

Beer said “The teamwork that was seen at the incident was impeccable. We all helped each other and thankfully we succeeded at saving this woman’s life. Each person performed a vital task, whether it was compressions, drawing medications, administering shocks, calming, and informing the family members of what was happening, this scene was managed really well. The volunteers were from all backgrounds and we worked together. I am proud to have been a part of saving this woman’s life.”


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