Last week, United Hatzalah volunteer EMT and Regional Coordinator Gavy Friedson was traveling through Newark Airport on his way back from a speaking engagement in Vancouver, Canada. Friedson had been talking about how the organization saves lives by having volunteers spread across the country. These volunteer first responders are trained to recognize an emergency situation and react in seconds to provide medical aid and intervention. Friedson was not expecting to have to put his training to use so soon after his speaking event. But as is often the case with first responders, they are often in the right place at the right time.

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On Tuesday, Friedson, was in the airport when he noticed an 86-year-old woman in a wheelchair being pushed by her daughter and granddaughter through the terminal.

Friedson noticed that the matriarch was not being responsive as her daughter called her name. The older woman was turning red and quickly losing consciousness.

Friedson immediately signaled the airport police officers to get him a defibrillator and to call an ICU ambulance. The police officers helped him get the woman out of the wheelchair and lay her gently down on the floor where he began chest compressions. Friedson, together with the first responders in the airport continued CPR for approximately 8 minutes until an ambulance arrived.

Minutes before this situation occurred Gavy was telling the people next to him on his fight all about his experiences as an EMT first responder. He had told fellow passengers that: “We never know when an emergency will take place. We never know where it will happen and we certainly will never know why.”

Friedson, therefore, encouraged his fellow passengers to take CPR courses so that they will have the basic skills needed in the moment when an emergency takes place. “We may not be able to predict the when and the where, but we can certainly train ourselves to know how to respond. We can definitely know how to do basic CPR which can help save a life,” he added.

Just a few minutes after the wheels touched down on the tarmac, Friedson found himself performing CPR.

“It is incredibly important to know what to do in this type of situation,” Friedson said. “I cannot emphasize enough how important learning and performing CPR properly is. A bystander can quickly turn into a lifesaver if they know what to do and act quickly during an emergency even before ambulances and first responders arrive. That is the idea that United Hatzalah is founded upon (having volunteer responders arrive ahead of ambulances to cut down response time. That is the message that I am trying to share with everyone I meet across the globe. Hopefully, my efforts will result in many lives being saved.”