Last week, during Pesach (spring) break, 20-year-old yeshiva student Shmuel Vaknin suffered a heat stroke while hiking in Nahal Arugot in the Ein Gedi Reserve. The young man was in serious condition in an area that is difficult to access and his friends alerted emergency services.

Military EMT and United Hatzalah volunteer Chemi Trachtenberg, who happened to be hiking in the same area, was alerted by United Hatzalah’s Dispatch and Command Center, which set up a conference call between the volunteer and Shmuel’s friends in order to determine their precise location. Chemi ran about a kilometer uphill in order to provide lifesaving treatment to the student. Arriving at the location in just a few minutes, the volunteer moved Shmuel to the shade and poured water on him. After reporting to the dispatch that a helicopter was needed in order to evacuate the patient as soon as possible, the first responder monitored Shmuel’s vital signs and ensured that his airways were open until the arrival of a helicopter from the 669 IDF Rescue unit, which evacuated him to the hospital.

from left to right Shmuel Vaknin Chemi Trachtenberg and his friends in Shmuels hospital room
(from left to right) Shmuel Vaknin, Chemi Trachtenberg and his friends in Shmuel’s hospital room

On Monday, Chemi, who serves as a combat EMT in the ultra-orthodox IDF company of the Paratroopers Brigade, visited the yeshiva student in his hospital room together with two of his friends who were with him on the hike and helped provide assistance to Shmuel. “It’s miraculous that he came out of this alive,” said Chemi after the visit. “When we entered the room at first Shmuel didn’t recognize us. I told him that I know him very well, that I worked on him for half an hour in order to save his life. Thank God, he is now alive and well. I recounted what had happened to him and he was very moved. It’s a great privilege to save a life.”

One of Chemi’s friends added: “Shmuel was really moved to see us. We wished him a full recovery and he thanked us for being there at the right time. He called on all of the yeshiva students who go on hikes to abide by safety recommendations, bring lots of water, and expressed his appreciation to the 669 Unit who conducted the medevac and brought him to the hospital.”

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