On Simchat Torah morning at around 7:00 a.m., a 35-year-old man in the city of Petah Tikva fell unconscious as he was standing on his porch. His wife heard the fall and called emergency services straight away. Dispatchers gave instructions to the distraught wife over the phone in order so that she could begin CPR.

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United Hatzalah volunteer father and son Sariel and Dovi Widawsky

Within the first three minutes of the wife’s attempts to revive her husband, 5 volunteer EMTs arrived, two of whom were Sariel Widawsky along with his son Dovi. Sariel has been an emergency medical volunteer EMT for 40 years and has performed over 87 resuscitations in that time. He and his son live in the same neighborhood in Petah Tikva where the emergency took place. They were about to leave for the morning prayers when they received the alert.

Another United Hatzalah volunteer, Elchanan Vitztom who is a nurse by profession, had arrived a moment before Sariel and his son and had checked the fallen man for vital signs. As Sariel and Dovi walked in the door, he told them to begin compressions as the attached defibrillator administered a shock. Then Elchanan gave the patient an IV and administered fluids.

The worried wife explained that after her husband woke up, he complained that he had difficulty breathing. He went out to their porch for some fresh air to hopefully improve his situation. However, upon his return, he collapsed onto the floor, and that is when she called for help.

Together the team of EMTs continued doing CPR for about 20 minutes until a second shock was advised by the defibrillator. Following the second shock, the man’s pulse came back and he began breathing on his own. He even began to move his arms to signify that he was regaining consciousness. The mobile intensive care ambulance arrived at the scene just as the man began to wake up and the team attached a heart monitor to the patient and prepared to take him directly to the hospital for further care and observation.

When the patient was placed on the stretcher he asked that his young children come to him. He spoke to them and kissed them before he was transported to the hospital. “We all shed a tear and thanked Hashem that we had just witnessed a miracle,” said Sariel Widawsky. “If we hadn’t got there when we did, the likelihood of the man returning to life would have been almost zero. It was unbelievable to see a 35-year-old man come back to life and be fully conscious, breathing, and aware. Even speaking to his children this quickly after he had suffered a cardiac arrest is an unbelievable feat. One would never believe he had just been dead a few minutes before.”

Sariel quipped that “The man must have prayed extremely well on Rosh Hashanah for G-d to have given him another chance to live.” He continued, “This is what United Hatzalah is all about. It’s about rushing to the emergency, arriving as soon as possible, and restoring life to the presumed dead. I continue to thank G-d every day for the privilege to work as a volunteer for United Hatzalah and save others as we did for this man. That day, we celebrated Simchat Torah and Simchat Chayim.” Sariel concluded.

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