In what turned out to be a dramatic and successful CPR that took place on Friday evening, just as Shabbat was coming in, a father collapsed in front of his son and was saved by the quick reaction of his very own neighbor, United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Kalanit Taub together with other first responders.
The father was assisting an ambulance driver in carrying his grown son up the two flights of stairs from the street to their home. The son, who was positive for Covid, was rushed to the hospital after falling and suffering a head injury that required stitches.
After receiving the stitches and returning from the hospital, the ambulance driver, who was alone due to covid-patient transfer protocols, was assisted by the father in carrying his son up to the second floor of an outside staircase. Due to the injury, as well as being ill with Covid-19, the son was unable to climb the stairs himself.
At the top of the stairs, the father started to feel faint and then collapsed. As the rain came down, the ambulance driver, who had no equipment with him, called for help and began chest compressions on the man.
United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Kalanit Taub was in her home in Efrat when she received the alert for the emergency. Recognizing the address as being on her own street, Kalanit quickly grabbed her vest and defibrillator and rushed to the scene arriving in less than a minute.
Finding the ambulance driver performing chest compressions, Kalanit quickly joined the efforts and attached her defibrillator which advised a shock. After the shock was given, the pair attached an Ambu bag valve mask (BVM) as other volunteers came rushing up the stairs, donned personal protective suits, and joined the CPR effort.
One of them was United Hatzalah volunteer Raphael Poch. Raphael had just responded to a different emergency in a northern neighborhood of Efrat together with EMT volunteer Eytan Yammer when they received the alert about the collapsed man and the CPR in progress. Shortly thereafter another announcement went out on the radio notifying the responders that there was no available ambulance in the town and one was on its way from a nearby town. Yammer and Poch rushed to the scene, as did Dr. Yitzchak Glick, Mitch Eichen, and Adi Kolani. The remaining volunteers arrived together with the mobile intensive care ambulance that had sped over from the neighboring town, donned their personal protection (PPE) suits due to the Covid-19 risk, and set to work attempting to revive the man.
With a total of 6 United Hatzalah volunteers and the ambulance crew working as a team and all assisting in CPR efforts, Raphael, who is also a member of the organization’s Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit, saw that there was no need for his assistance with the CPR and switched hats and began providing emotional and psychological stabilization to the children of the collapsed man who witnessed his collapse.
The children, all of whom are fully grown, and all of whom were positive with Corona, were in a state of emotional shock. They had spent numerous minutes out in the cold and rain watching the team of assembled EMS personnel perform CPR on their dad. Raphael ushered them inside, helped them find blankets, and reassured them that everything that can be done to save their father’s life was being done. The rain and cold proved helpful for the CPR effort, as it slowed down the man’s system and prevented brain damage from occurring.
After receiving a second shock from the defibrillator, the man’s pulse stabilized, and he began breathing on his own. The team of medical personnel continued assisted breathing and monitored the man closely as he slowly regained consciousness. Once the man had stabilized enough to be transported, he was lifted down the stairs that he had just climbed while carrying his son, and for his second time, that day headed to the hospital. As the most senior caregiver at the scene, Dr. Glick accompanied the man to the hospital driving behind the ambulance and accompanying the man into the emergency room.
After the man was on the way to the hospital, most of the volunteers returned home and welcomed Shabbat. Raphael stayed for a few minutes in order to make sure that the children were updated and knew that the CPR had been a success and were able to properly process the incident. The most important aspect of the psychological first aid was to make sure that their immediate needs were taken care of and that they had a viable support system from caring neighbors who came to stay with them following the traumatic incident.
“It was so strange to perform CPR on my neighbor,” said Kalanit. “One minute I can see my neighbor taking out the trash, the next I’m in his home fighting to save his life. I’ve lived in this neighborhood in Efrat for close to 15 years, and I have known my neighbor for that long. I am glad the CPR was successful. I have performed many CPRs in my time as an EMT and even a few successful ones. This was by far the hardest one that I had endured. I look forward to seeing my neighbor after he makes a full recovery and I hope that I will have a closer relationship with him and his family.”
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