Two weeks ago, on Monday around noon in Jerusalem, United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Yakov (who wishes to leave out his last name) was just finishing transferring an unconscious patient to an ambulance crew, when he received another alert from his communications device regarding a second medical emergency in his vicinity. A fire had burst out in an apartment building a couple of blocks down. Yakov immediately drove over on his emergency electric bicycle (E-bike) and was the first emergency responder at the scene.

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Scene of the fire on Sorotzkin Street

Upon arrival at Sorotzkin street, Yakov found a four-story apartment building engulfed in smoke, as flames erupted from a ground floor storage room. The fire department had not yet arrived and building residents were trapped inside as smoke filled the building. In the brief moment that it took for Yakov to take in the scene, a car drove by with a ladder strapped to the roof. Yakov flagged down the car and the driver pulled over. With the driver’s permission, Yakov detached the ladder, leaned it against the building, and climbed up to the first floor.

A very worried and frantic young mother was waiting by the window holding her newborn to the fresh air as smoke wafted around her. When the woman saw the United Hatzalah EMT climb up to reach her window, she eagerly handed her baby boy to Yakov, assured that he was in safe hands now. Yakov climbed back down and sheltered the crying baby inside his orange United Hatzalah vest as firefighters arrived to take the lead in this incident.

The mother emerged from the building and Yakov reunited the woman with her baby. There was no time for him to let his guard down yet. A firefighter approached Yakov and requested his assistance. There was an 80-year-old woman on the top floor who was suffering from smoke inhalation. She recently underwent surgery and couldn’t be moved safely at this time. Although there was still smoke in the building, the firefighters were getting the fire under control and would keep Yakov safe while he entered. Yakov readily agreed, grabbed the medical kit from his E-bike, and followed the firefighters. Climbing up to the top floor, he found the elderly woman with indications of smoke inhalation. He quickly connected an oxygen mask. Meanwhile, firefighters were able to contain the blaze. As soon as the woman’s condition stabilized, she was helped downstairs to a waiting ambulance.

“When I saw the residents of the building calling out from the windows, I knew that I was sent here for a reason and that I must do everything in my power to help them,” Yakov commented. “When I am out responding to medical emergencies I feel that not only am I doing my job but that I am giving back to society by helping other people and that is exactly what I was put on this earth to do. I believe that it is everyone’s job to give back to society in whatever way they can. For me, that is responding to medical emergencies and assisting people through some of the toughest moments they will ever face. I am grateful to be able to volunteer with United Hatzalah, and to fulfill my mission of giving back to society in the way I know how.”

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