In the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Homa, on Saturday night just before 9:00 P.M., an apartment building caught fire, causing residents to immediately alert emergency services.
David Even, a United Hatzalah volunteer EMT, received an alert on his communications device and quickly responded to the emergency with his father Yechezkel, who also volunteers as a first responder for the organization. The father and son, who had spent Shabbat together, arrived first on the scene and parked their car on the side to allow access for emergency vehicles. Upon arrival, they witnessed a chaotic scene with smoke billowing out of the building and terrifying screams echoing throughout.
Following protocol, they waited for the Fire and Rescue crews to arrive before entering the building. They then followed the firefighters and gained access to one floor after another. On the fourth floor, they came across four members of the same family, who had inhaled smoke due to the fire originating in their apartment. While the firefighters extinguished the fire, the pair carried a five-year-old girl to safety and accompanied the family to the waiting ambulances where they received oxygen therapy. The 18-year-old girl was in moderate condition and suffering from emotional shock, while the rest of the family was in light condition. Ambulances transported them to the hospital for further treatment.
For the Even family, this was not the first time responding to an emergency together. Yechezkel, a Haredi man who recently retired from IDF after 35 years as an F16 technician in the Air Force, started volunteering under the influence of his son Yinon. “Yinon had just finished United Hatzalah’s EMT course in 2018 and encouraged me to take the course myself,” Yechezkel explained. “I thought it wasn’t for me and responded that I didn’t have time. A few weeks later, I received a call from someone at United Hatzalah telling me that they were interviewing candidates for the next EMT course. I decided to show up. During the interview, I was asked what brought me to want to volunteer. I said that in all honesty I wasn’t sure I wanted to but as we were speaking, I thought about what had happened to my sister, who suffered a sudden death a number of years ago and wasn’t saved on time. I felt like I had to do it for her and it was not long before I started volunteering myself as well.”
Yechezkel eventually inspired his other son David to become an EMT. A month ago, Yinon married Sarah, who also volunteers as a first responder in the organization.
“We go on calls together, we go as a team and protect each other, reminding each other to be careful,” said David. “We also go on ambulance rides together sometimes. After responding to an incident, we do a debriefing and try to understand what we did right and what we should do better next time. It’s very special.”
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