“It takes a lot to truly surprise me. I’ve been an EMT for years and I have seen a lot of trauma. From car accidents to sudden infant deaths, terror attacks, and many other medical emergencies. As a first responder for my community, I have responded to hundreds of emergencies, each with their own unique situation. Until last week I had not seen the true power of the psychotrauma unit, one of the newest additions to EMS response in Israel.

(Photo: Scene of accident on route 3866 outside Mahasiya)
(Photo: Scene of accident on route 3866 outside Mahasiya)

 The interaction took place after a motor vehicle accident which I responded to outside of the town of Mahasiya on route 3866 this past Friday. One of the vehicles involved caught fire and was a total wreck. The woman who was driving had a complete emotional breakdown following the accident. I as well as some of the other emergency medical services (EMS) personnel who responded to the scene attempted to calm her down, but she was hysterical and inconsolable.After numerous attempts to calm her down most of the EMS teams left the scene after telling her the catch-all Israeli conciliatory phrase “Yihiyeh B’Seder” which loosely translates into English as “It will be okay.”

I am part of an organization in which everyday people, from every community in Israel, drop everything they are doing and respond to medical emergencies 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year. So I am used to seeing car accidents, but I had never seen a woman this shaken up. I picked up my radio and I called for a representative of United Hatzalah’s psychotrauma team to come and try to talk to the woman. The volunteer, who works as a therapist in her professional life, left her preparations for Shabbat and came to the scene. She sat with the woman, in my car for over 40 minutes, talking to her, calming her and helping to stabilize her emotionally. After the arduous task, I saw a dramatic change in the woman as she returned to herself and was able to begin processing what had happened to her. The shift was dramatic, and as a seasoned EMT, I can honestly say that I have never seen anything like this before.

 To me, this is what United Hatzalah is all about. It is an organization that helps people and works to provide free medical service in the first few moments after a crisis happens. While I focus on providing medical aid, I now see the power of the psychological aid that our psychotrauma team provides for people suffering from a traumatic incident. This is my first time seeing the work that this unit does, with my own eyes and I was astounded. It is incredibly inspiring to me as a volunteer EMT to see that we have ways of helping that go far beyond the medical. Providing psychological and emotional aid as a first response is incredibly important and I am proud to be part of an organization that recognizes this aspect of treatment as a necessity. I encourage my fellow EMTs and EMS personnel to also utilize this astounding unit if you ever encounter a person who is in need of emotional or psychological help as a result of being exposed to trauma. It can make a world of difference.”

                                               – Yitzchak Marmorshtein, Volunteer EMT with United Hatzalah