United Hatzalah of Israel is a nationwide network of volunteers who provide emergency medical services across Israel to people of all faiths, backgrounds, genders, and races. The average response time of the volunteers is less than three minutes across Israel and in certain major cities such as Jerusalem, less than 90 seconds. The following is a story of one of the recent rescues performed by a United Hatzalah volunteer.

Recently one evening at a Jerusalem cinema, a boy was munching on some snacks as he watched a movie when he began experiencing a severe allergic reaction. His friends immediately called the emergency hotline for help.

United Hatzalah emergency medical services volunteer Yaakov Kaminetzky, who hails from Jerusalem was nearby at the Machane Yehuda shuk when he received the urgent alert from United Hatzalah’s Dispatch and Command Center. Kaminetzky ran to his ambucycle (a hybrid of an ambulance and a motorcycle) and raced off through the evening traffic towards cinema. He arrived at the scene within just 60 seconds.

Yaakov Kaminetzky and his family
Yaakov Kaminetzky and his family

Kaminetzky, who is himself a father of one found the 13-year-old boy red and swollen, struggling to breathe amidst a full-blown anaphylactic reaction. Recognizing that the situation could quickly turn fatal, Kaminetzky swiftly administered a full dose of epinephrine from his EpiPen. The experienced EMT then provided high-flow oxygen, as he took the young patient’s vitals. By the time the Mobile Intensive Care Unit (MICU) arrived, 4 minutes later, the boy was already breathing unassisted and his overall condition had improved markedly.

“An allergic reaction is one of the medical instances in which a person’s condition deteriorates rapidly and the first medicine is given makes the biggest change. As a responder, you see the dramatic results immediately and that makes a strong impression on anyone. The people around him were all in a state of heightened agitation and once we arrived and provided the treatment then entire crowd calmed down significantly. It was simply amazing to behold.”  


The team of paramedics expressed their gratitude to the United Hatzalah volunteer for his rapid, professional response. Kaminetzky then assisted the team as they transferred the now-stabilized boy out of the cinema and onto the back of the ambulance. The patient was whisked off to the hospital for further observation and definitive care.