United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Yosef Isaac is saving lives in Jerusalem, even when those people are not the kindest.

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Yosef’s block is buzzing with residents from all backgrounds and walks of life, as is common in the Holy City. At times, cultural and religious divides can spill over into “neighborly” relationships. Such was the case until recently with a fellow resident of Yosef’s apartment building.

Seeing the EMT exit the building on Saturday mornings dressed in his Shabbat finery, the neighbor would call him a “parasite” as he turned the volume up on his car stereo in a way that appeared clearly designed to make Yosef feel uncomfortable. Ironically, Yosef is a veteran of the IDF who served in the “Nahal Haredi” unit as a religious combat soldier. He has done his part in service of the People of Israel and continues to do so as a volunteer EMT.

One morning at 2:00 a.m., Yosef was woken up by an urgent alert from United Hatzalah Command Center. A man in his building was having intense chest pains. Without a moment’s hesitation, the EMT leaped out of bed and raced downstairs to your lifesaving ambucycle. He grabbed the rescue bag and dashed to the apartment, arriving at the location within seconds of receiving the call.

Yosef discovered the pale-faced patient clutching his chest in acute pain, with clear signs of an impending heart attack. The United Hatzalah EMT soon realized that the patient was the very same neighbor with the Saturday morning antics. Yosef swiftly administered aspirin to reduce cardiac pressure. He treated the man and took his vital signs, as together they waited over 20 minutes for the Mobile Intensive Care Unit to arrive. The patient was then evacuated to the hospital and immediately was sent to the cath lab, where he twice underwent emergency catheterization.

After being discharged from the hospital, the man approached Yosef to apologize for his past behavior. He expressed his profound gratitude to the United Hatzalah volunteer for overlooking past differences and for saving his life “when the chips were down.”

Yosef’s dedication and selflessness is not only saving lives, it is helping bridge the sharp divides among diverse sectors of Israeli society.


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