The Jerusalem Municipality honored exemplary first responders on Thursday at a special ceremony that took place at City Hall. Among the honorees presented with citations from the city for their exemplary service were select volunteers from the police, fire department, ambulance organizations and the United Hatzalah EMS organization. Chosen from among the more than 400 United Hatzalah first responders in the city, four were chosen for having gone above and beyond the call of duty.

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Photo credit: Shira Hershkop

The four recipients who are all residents of the capital city were David Selach, Noa Zohar, Avraham Becker and Sami Darwish, who hails from the Muslim community of Beit Zafafa.

David Selach has been a United Hatzalah volunteer for the past eight years. In addition to being a very active EMT, Selach runs the organization’s ambulance system and logistics for the Jerusalem region. One recent Friday while preparing for Shabbat, Selach rushed out of his home in Ramot to save a choking baby who was  8-months-old. The emergency took place just two blocks from where Selach lives. He arrived in less than 90 seconds and found the infant lying on the kitchen table with severe asphyxiation. Selach began performing CPR on the infant and succeeded in removing the object that was blocking the child’s airway. As the child began to utter a sharp cry, Selach knew that the worst danger had passed and that the child would live.

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David Selach receives his award (Credit: Shira Hershkop)

Noa Zohar is 35-years-old, married and a mother of four. She lives in the Romema neighborhood of Jerusalem and in addition to being a volunteer EMT for more than 20 years, she heads United Hatzalah’s education department. A few months ago she heard a knock on her door one night. It was well after midnight when the interruption came. A worried father was clutching his daughter who was one-and-a-half-years-old. The girl was not breathing and unconscious. Noa immediately shook off sleep and performed CPR on the young girl. She succeeded at bringing a pulse back and saved the girls life. Additionally, Noa has successfully delivered eight babies during unexpected home births in the past year alone. Noa’s dedication, sensitivity and professionalism, together with her decades of experience, are seen in every medical emergency that she responds to on a daily basis.

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Noa Zohar receives her award (Credit: Shira Hershkop)

Avraham Becker is 27-years-old and lives in Pisgat Ze’ev. He works with the police and has been a United Hatzalah volunteer EMT and ambucycle driver for the past seven years. He also volunteers as one of the organization’s ambulance drivers and as part of the Ten Kavod project working to ensure the health and safety of the city’s elderly. Two months ago, when he was heading home from work one evening, he received an emergency alert regarding a 50-year-old unconscious man. Avraham was just three streets over from the man’s location and rushed to the scene. He performed CPR on the unconscious man and utilized the defibrillator that is standard in ambucycles. After a few minutes of CPR that included shocks from the defibrillator, the patient’s heart began beating once again and he began breathing. The man woke up a few days later in the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.

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Avraham Becker receives his award (Credit: Shira Hershkop)

Sami Darwish is 58-years-old and married with four children. He lives in Beit Sefafa and works as a contractor. Sami has been a United Hatzalah volunteer for the past five years. In addition to being an EMT, Sami works with the organization’s emergency room assistance program and volunteers extra shifts in Hadassah Ein Kerem. He also drives one of the organization’s ambulances every week on Shabbat in order to provide coverage for both the Jewish and Muslim neighborhoods in the city.

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Sami Darwish receives his award (Credit: Shira Hershkop)

A few months ago, Sami was driving one of the ambulances on Shabbat and responded to two separate emergency calls of Jewish women who were unable to make it to the hospital in time to give birth. Thanks to his speedy arrival, both babies were safely delivered at home with the help of his medical assistance. Both the babies and mothers joined the hundreds of others that Sami has successfully treated over the past year.

By choosing to honor these volunteers who hail from different neighborhoods and backgrounds for the lifesaving work that they do every day, the city of Jerusalem also effectively honored and paid tribute to the organization’s diversity and the work of all United Hatzalah volunteers who help others when they need it most.

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