On Saturday night, just after 9:30 p.m., United Hatzalah volunteer EMT David Baluka was in his home in Neve Ziv, a town located near Ma’alot-Tarshiha in the northern region of Israel. David was winding down from Shabbat when his communications device alerted him to an emergency occurring in his town. David recognized the address and hurried to his car, knowing that this was the address of a 9-year-old girl with a severe chronic disease that forced her into a paralyzed state.

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David Baluka in his vest

En route to the location of the emergency, David alerted United Hatzalah’s Dispatch and Command Center of the girl’s situation and requested back-up. Arriving in under a minute, David grabbed his vest and medical bag from the trunk. As he ran into the home, David was met by a flustered father.

The father informed David that his wife was on the phone with the dispatch center receiving instructions for chest compressions, as he stepped outside, unable to watch. Upon entering, David located the mother and unconscious daughter on the floor and quickly took over chest compressions. The mother was relieved to see David, a familiar face, and continued assisting David in the gentle compressions on the small child.

“It was one of the most complicated CPRs I have ever been to,” explained David. “The child was unconscious, but every now and then, a body reflex would act up, and she would move her arm. Normally, that is a sign of consciousness, and the CPR stops, but in this case, we had to ignore these signs as they were a result of her condition. We had to just keep performing compressions fighting for her life. Since the girl was in a paralyzed state, we had to fight to keep her pulse, and it seemed like we were not winning.”

The 9-year-old’s pulse would fade out the second David stopped compressions. With the assisted ventilation the child was receiving for her condition, David knew that the best chance he had to save the girl’s life was to continue compressions, stabilizing her pulse, until the ambulance arrived.

Thankfully, the mobile intensive care ambulance arrived at the scene after just ten minutes, and the ambulance crew attached a heart monitor and took over the compressions. As they loaded her into the ambulance the team worked to stabilize her pulse as David briefed them on the situation.

In a few short minutes, the girl and her parents were off to the hospital and David was able to return home after an exhausting effort of life-saving.

“I spoke to the girl’s doctors later, apparently water had gotten into her lungs and that’s how she began choking and eventually lost her pulse,” David continued. “It was a hard and stressful CPR, unlike any other, because normally when a person’s pulse returns, it has to stabilize before you can stop chest compressions. In this case, I knew that the minute I stopped compressions, her pulse would fade away. I knew the only way to save her life was with constant compressions, and I went home exhausted that night. It was incredibly difficult for me as it was a long time to be doing CPR by myself, but it was a battle that I had to win otherwise the girl would die. Just the thought of knowing that I helped save her life, gives me the strength to do a CPR like that all over again.”

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