On Wednesday morning just after 10:00  a.m. David Birnbaum, who works as the director of a Yeshiva in the city of Hadera and also volunteers as a United Hatzalah EMT, received an emergency alert from his communications device notifying him of a medical emergency occurring nearby. David, who is a veteran EMT, quickly stopped what he was doing, got into his car, and drove to the given address. He arrived at the same time as the ambulance crew. 

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A United Hatzalah ambulance responding to an emergency (illustration)

A 45-year-old man was lying unconscious on the floor in the living room of his apartment. When David walked in, he saw a number of alcohol bottles open and some pill jars not too far away, all lying on their sides, empty, with their covers removed. The team initiated CPR and relayed to dispatch that they required a mobile intensive care unit (MICU) to assist, both with the CPR and with counteracting the overdose. 

As David was performing compressions, the ambulance team attached a defibrillator, which did not advise any shocks. It took about 20 minutes, and some medications from the MICU but the combined team managed to regain the patient’s pulse. Once he was stable enough, he was loaded onto the MICU and transported to Hillel Yaffe Medical Center. 

“I’ve been a volunteer EMT for the past 25 years,” said Birnbaum, who was one of the two people who founded Hatzalah of Hadera back in the 1990s. “I’ve responded to thousands of medical emergencies and very little surprises me anymore. My goal is simply to help people, I’m not interested in honorifics or titles. I care about getting the work done. Everything beyond that I don’t have the need or energy for any longer.”

When Hatzalah Hadera joined United Hatzalah after its founding in 2006, Birnbaum was offered the position of Chapter Head of the region, a position he turned down. “It’s about saving people. That is what I want to do. That is what I have energy for. I can rush out to medical emergencies and save lives, running a chapter, taking care of all the logistics behind everything for all of the volunteers in the area, I think I’m thankfully done with that for now,” he added.    

Birnbaum, who is married with 7 children and close to 50, volunteers for other rescue organizations as well, including Zaka.  After having helped literally thousands of people in and around Hadera, Birnbaum still has the energy and drive to continue responding to medical emergencies whenever they occur in his vicinity. 


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