My name is Yosef Chaim Shachaf and I am a volunteer EMT with United Hatzalah. A few weeks ago on Tuesday morning just after 9:30 AM, I was driving on the highway near Ashkelon when I noticed a yeshiva student at a junction signaling to drivers that he was looking to hitchhike. Without hesitation, I stopped on the side of the road and offered him a ride. “Good morning, where do you need to go?”, I asked. “Sderot Junction,” he answered. I told him that I was heading in that direction, at least part of the way, and I warmly welcomed him into my car and we started chatting.

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A United Hatzalah vehicle (illustration)

After some time, I told him that I needed to stop to eat a quick breakfast, inviting him to join me before I take him to his destination. He nodded enthusiastically, we stopped, ate something, and got back on the road. Suddenly, there was complete silence. I looked into the rearview mirror and realized that my new friend’s mouth and throat were starting to swell up. He yelled to me to call for help, not knowing that I am an EMT myself. Realizing that he was likely experiencing an anaphylactic reaction to the food he just ate, I stopped on the side of the road carefully, got out of the car, and took out my medical kit, which thankfully included an epinephrine auto-injection device called an EpiPen. This is a lifesaving tool whenever a person is having a severe allergic reaction. I reported the incident to United Hatzalah’s Dispatch and Command Center and then administered the injection to the suffering hitchhiker who immediately started looking and feeling better. The swelling in his face decreased more and more as the minutes went by.

He explained to me he had several allergies and didn’t always carry an EpiPen with him. This prompted me to emphasize to him the importance of doing so, although after the anaphylactic shock that he just had I hardly needed to do so. When the ambulance arrived sometime later, my hitchhiking friend thanked me profusely for saving his life before being evacuated to the hospital for further treatment and follow-up care.

Friends, if you know you have severe allergies, carrying an EpiPen with you at all times is a must, it’s the difference between life and death. Please protect your own life.

To equip more volunteers such as Yosef Chaim with EpiPens, please click here.