Last Friday night, a woman choked while having dinner with her family in a well-known restaurant in Modi’in. Her relatives immediately alerted emergency services, and were relieved to see two United Hatzalah EMTs arrive at the scene within mere seconds.

Yehuda Neikrug and his son Sagiv had been having their own Friday night dinner together when they received the alert on their communications device, and were astounded to see the name of the restaurant they were sitting in as the location of the emergency. After glancing around, the volunteer EMTs initially thought they had received the wrong address as no one seemed to be choking in the restaurant. After making themselves known to the staff of the restaurant as United Hatzalah EMTs, they were directed to a separate room on the first floor. They quickly made their way to the room after grabbing their medical gear from the car. In the room, Yehuda and Sagiv met the woman’s panicked relatives, who rushed them to the entrance of the bathrooms, where they found the 70-year-old woman, half-conscious and not breathing. Relatives explained she had choked on a piece of chicken.

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Yehuda and Sagiv Neikrug (right and center-right)

The pair immediately started performing the Heimlich maneuver but after two unsuccessful applications of pressure on the woman’s abdomen, the septuagenarian lost consciousness fully. Yehuda and Sagiv decided to initiate CPR. 

Intensive care specialist and United Hatzalah volunteer doctor Dr. Dani Katzman was having Friday night dinner at his house with his family when he was alerted to the incident. A religious Jew, he did not hesitate to get into his car on Shabbat as the description of the case indicated that it was a life-threatening emergency. Upon arriving at the scene, Dr. Katzman was told that the woman’s pulse had been restored thanks to the combined efforts of Yehuda, Sagiv and other first responders, who had performed CPR. A doctor from an ambulance crew which was also at the scene was struggling to dislodge the piece of food that was stuck in the woman’s throat. Dr. Katzman took a try while the ambulance crew was assigned the task of sedating the patient. Dr. Katzman moved the patient out of the small bathroom in order to get better access to her throat and using special forceps, he was successful in pulling out three pieces of schnitzel that had been lodged there. He proceeded to intubate the woman’s throat while the ambulance crew was providing a sedative through an intravenous line. The patient, now stable and able to inhale, was then transferred to the ambulance and evacuated to the hospital for further treatment. 

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Dr Dani Katzman (right)

Yehuda Neikrug reflected after the incident: “As United Hatzalah volunteers, we never know when we’re going to need to respond to a medical emergency and we are always ready for it. This holds true even when we’re busy spending quality time with our families. There is actually no greater father and son bonding time than responding to emergencies together. Sagiv, in addition to volunteering with United Hatzalah, is an EMT in the army and it is obvious to all that he is an extremely talented practitioner. Having him by my side while responding to an emergency is both moving as a father and reassuring as an EMT.”

Dr. Katzman explained what had brought him to volunteer with United Hatzalah: “I immigrated to Israel from Skokie, Illinois, in 2019 and for various reasons I initially could only work remotely, treating American patients through telemedicine. But it was unimaginable for me to move to the country without contributing my know-how to Israel’s society and being part of the medical community in Israel. As a child growing up in New York, I was part of the local Hatzolah organization and I have been involved with emergency medical services my whole life. Thus, it was obvious to me that volunteering with United Hatzalah was the perfect solution. After I started volunteering it became clear to me that there is a great need for faster emergency medical services in Modi’in. I am glad that in this case we were able to save this woman’s life.”

To support the lifesaving work of United Hatzalah volunteers such as Yehuda, Sagiv and Dr Katzman, please click here.