In a continuing effort to expand operations to every community in Israel, United Hatzalah welcomed its newest doctor last Thursday. Dr. Murad Issam Odeh joined the East Jerusalem chapter of United Hatzalah at a special evening held to honor the Arab EMS volunteers of Israel’s capital city.

During the dinner that was attended by more than 30 EMTs, paramedics, and doctors, Dr. Odeh was given a first responder vest and complete medical kit provided by the organization. Dr. Odeh did not know that the kit he was given would be put to immediate use.

Dr. Murad Odeh (center) stands with the directors of  United Hatzalah
Dr. Murad Odeh (center) stands with the directors of United Hatzalah

Over the course of the evening, one of the group of EMS volunteers unknowingly ate some fish and immediately suffered a severe allergic reaction. Dr. Odeh immediately began treating his fellow first responder for anaphylactic symptoms and succeeded in preventing the full onset of anaphylactic shock by administering an antihistamine immediately upon seeing the symptoms of the allergic reaction. “I saw him begin to show signs of a severe allergic reaction. He began to develop a rash over his face and his eyes began to water. Before his situation could deteriorate any further, I administered an intramuscular steroid with an antihistamine and we closely observed him for 20 minutes as he began to stabilize.”

Dr. Odeh, a pediatrician who lives and works in Jerusalem, is new to EMS work. A close friend of his who is a volunteer, told him about his experience as an EMT and it peaked Odeh’s interest “I’ve always wanted to volunteer as a first responder,” said Odeh. “It has been a dream of mine ever since I began studying medicine. For me, now is the time. I couldn’t do it while I was studying or in residency as I simply didn’t have the time. However, now I am able to go out and help as a doctor. I want to help as many people as I can.”

Dr. Odeh said that the decision to specifically become a volunteer first responder with United Hatzalah was fairly straightforward. “I’ve always looked at the organization as one that accepts volunteers from any background provided they meet the medical requirements. It allows people to go out and really make a difference. I am proud to be a part of United Hatzalah and equally proud of what this organization is doing. As a doctor, I get to help my patients all of the time. But joining this organization gives me the opportunity to help people all over the country no matter who they are.”

“Joining United Hatzalah as a doctor, and as an Arab, couldn’t have been easier. Here, they don’t care what religion one is, or what color someone’s skin is. They only worry about treating the patient and helping people. Those are ideals that I fully support and it has been a terrific experience having the full support of the organization behind me when I respond to emergencies.”

Dr. Odeh has been volunteering with the organization for two weeks and has already saved lives. He added that he is looking forward to treating people whenever and wherever he is needed. “I am about to spend a week working in Tiberias. I have been in touch with the United Hatzalah chapter there as well as the other chapters of the organization in the north of the country, letting them know that I am coming and that I am available to assist if need be. That is the beauty of being a part of a national organization. No matter where I go, no matter what time of day, I can be of help to someone, even at my own inauguration party.”