One month ago, United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Daniel Katzenstein received an alert from his communication device, notifying him about a medical emergency occurring near his home in Neve Yaakov. Daniel headed to the address in his emergency flycar. As per the protocol for volunteering during the pandemic, before he entered the home where the incident took place, he put on his gloves and covered his face with a mask.

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Daniel and his emergency flycar

Continuing to adhere to the protocols of the organization, upon arrival, Daniel asked the family members who met him at the door if anyone from the house was exposed to a coronavirus patient, or in isolation. After receiving confirmation that it was safe to enter, Daniel entered the home and found a woman semi-conscious on the floor retching. The woman in question was 6 weeks post-birth and was unable to keep a mask on her face. Daniel quickly requested backup and an ambulance, before assisting the woman and preparing her for transport to the hospital.

A few minutes later, another volunteer EMT from United Hatzalah, a woman, arrived on the scene along with an ambulance and two other volunteers. The team of EMTs helped the woman onto the ambulance and she was transported to the nearest hospital.

Daniel, along with the team of EMTs later received information that the woman they assisted tested positive for Covid-19 in the hospital, thus forcing them all into a 14-day-long isolation period. This time period overlapped with the week-long holiday of Sukkot, causing Daniel to be distanced from his family during the holiday. The burden of going into isolation had already affected over 1,000 United Hatzalah volunteers during the course of the pandemic, causing the burden of responding to medical emergencies to fall on a smaller roster of volunteers.

But what was probably hardest for Daniel during isolation, was the emergency call that came in when he was on the phone with a colleague discussing the details of Covid isolation. An accident had occurred involving a 10-month-old baby, on the street that Daniel lives on. Following protocol and isolation rules, Daniel knew he couldn’t respond to the call, despite the close distance.

The frustrated volunteer rushed to his porch overlooking the street to get a good look at the scene. He then saw the couple run into the street with their limp baby in their arms and was relieved to see a fellow United Hatzalah first responder arrive on the scene in less than a minute and tend to the victim. The volunteer took the baby from the distraught parents and examined it. Additional United Hatzalah volunteers followed and then the word came back on the radio that the child was conscious.

“With my orange United Hatzalah wings clipped, this was going to be a challenging isolation,” said Daniel. “I turned off my walkie-talkie and handed over the keys to my flycar to a fellow volunteer who would be able to use the vehicle to rescue others while I was in isolation. When I was reviewing the after-action report of the call that caused my isolation with the Vice President of Operations Dov Maisel, we both agreed that I had operated according to protocols, but that these are the risks that we face as first responders. I told him if the situation necessitated it, I would do the same thing all over again. That is what makes us United Hatzalah.”

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