On Sunday morning, on a flight from Tel Aviv to Newark, NJ, a 60-year-old woman started suffering from symptoms alluding to a stroke. Avi Nefoussi, a United Hatzalah volunteer EMT, was the only medical personnel on the flight.

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Avi treating the patient on the plane


As the plane was preparing to land, Avi noticed a commotion a few rows behind him. A group of passengers were crowding around a woman and urgently asking for the help of any medical personnel on the flight. Avi ran over to them and introduced himself as an EMT. The flight attendants brought over the flight’s medical bag and the EMT immediately started to take the woman’s vitals and provide treatment. 


At first, the woman was in a state of semi-consciousness and could not respond to Avi’s questions. She was acting very confused and throwing up. The EMT gave her oxygen and checked her blood pressure. He found that it was high, at a rate of almost 150 diastolic. Soon after, the woman started experiencing numbness on the right side of her face. 


“Because of her symptoms, I started checking to see if she was suffering from a stroke, but she was too weak to participate in a F.A.S.T. test, so I couldn’t tell for sure if indeed that is what it was. Either way, she still had a case of hypertension, which is not good, especially after a flight,”  Avi said after the incident was over. “I knew that we were in a “Scoop and run” situation, meaning the woman needed to get to a hospital and get checked out as fast as possible. I didn’t have a full contingent of medical equipment and she needed help quickly. My main priority was keeping her stable until we made a complete landing and the medical staff on the ground could arrive quickly and transport the patient to the hospital as fast as possible.”

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Avi alongside a United Hatzalah ambulance


As soon as the plane landed, the flight attendants called 911. Avi stayed inside the aircraft with the woman and supervised her condition while they waited for an ambulance and other medical personnel to arrive on the runway, which occurred approximately 30 minutes after landing.


“I was more than happy to help and stay with the woman until an ambulance came,” said Avi after the incident, “It was important to me to make sure that the patient felt comfortable and that she was in good hands and that her situation didn’t deteriorate any further. Thankfully, I was in the right place at the right time in order to help, and that is all that matters.”

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