Just after 12:00 p.m. on Tuesday, a kindergarten teacher in her 40s lost consciousness and collapsed in front of the children in a local kindergarten in Ashdod. Children shrieked as other staff members hurriedly called emergency services for help. One of the staff rushed down the street to a local medical clinic to try and get help from the staff members there.
A few streets over, United Hatzalah volunteer Yaakov Atiya was studying in Kollel when his emergency communications device began to vibrate alerting him to the emergency occurring nearby. He quickly closed his sefer, ran outside to his car, and drove as fast as he could to the kindergarten. Arriving in less than three minutes, Yaakov grabbed his medical kit, saw the commotion, and rushed inside where he found the woman lying unconscious on the ground without a pulse.
Yaakov initiated CPR and was joined moments later by Dor Friedman, another United Hatzalah volunteer who rushed over on his ambucycle. The pair attached a defibrillator which gave an immediate shock to the patient, and then the duo continued to perform CPR. A nurse from the nearby medical clinic arrived and started an IV line.
“The chaos at the scene was palpable,” explained Yaakov. “The children were hysterical and the staff tried everything they could to calm them down. It was very difficult to be a part of and I radioed for backup and asked that the Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit (PCRU) be dispatched to assist the children and staff who were traumatized by what they witnessed.”
After a short while, additional EMS personnel arrived including an ambulance team from United Hatzalah. The combined team of responders succeeded in bringing back the woman’s pulse and her blood pressure rose to a stable level. The teacher was transported to the hospital in a mobile intensive care ambulance.
“After the medical emergency had ended, we had to deal with the emotional fallout,” explained Yaakov. “We cleaned the room thoroughly so that there would be no trace of any medical supplies or other leftovers from the CPR so that nothing would trigger the children or staff. Natalie Kadosh, one of the higher ranking (PCRU) unit members had taken charge of the scene and was working with both the children and the staff to help them process what happened. It was amazing to see that other volunteers also stepped in. Dor Friedman gave the children a demonstration of his ambucycle showing them how it works and told them how he was able to get there so quickly and safely. This brought smiles back to the worried faces of the children and it was a big help to pull them out of the trauma they witnessed. Another volunteer, Daniel Bokovza went out and purchased popsicles for all of the children in the daycare, that helped a lot as well. This really brought home for me the message that our work as first responders who are a part of the community doesn’t end, even when the medical emergency has passed, we are here for the community and all those affected by the emergency.”
Atiyah added, “I always tell my fellow volunteers and any new recruits which I meet that you need to keep aware. One never knows when or where an emergency will occur. When it does, we need to be there to help, and help not only until the person’s injuries are treated and they are transported to the hospital, but provide assistance until the incident is completely over. To me, that is what makes volunteering as a first responder with United Hatzalah unique, and I am proud to do it.”
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