On Sunday night just before midnight, a couple from the Pisgat Zeev neighborhood in Jerusalem was about to go to sleep when the husband suddenly started hearing his wife’s breathing become erratic. He tried to get her to sit up but she was unresponsive and then stopped breathing altogether.

Jewish and Muslim volunteers on an ambulance shift in Jerusalem illustration 768x1024 1
Jewish and Muslim volunteers on an ambulance shift in Jerusalem (illustration)

The worried husband, who was partially visually impaired called his children to help and told them to call for emergency services. The couple’s eldest son came into the room, helped his father place his mother on the ground, and began compressions while talking with the dispatcher.


United Hatzalah volunteers from the Muslim Chapter of east Jerusalem, Baha Sader, his cousin Mahmoud Sader, and Mohammad Aldawda, were located nearby and received the emergency alert. The three volunteers had just finished treating a man who had drunk too much alcohol. We treated him and he was taken to the hospital. We were about to head back to their respective homes when they received the alert.


“We had just finished treating an overdose patient when the alert came in about an unconscious person a few streets away in Pisgat Zeev. We all got in one car and raced over,” recounted Baha.


The trio arrived at the scene less than three minutes later and raced up the stairs into the apartment. An ambulance team that happened to be nearby when the alert was sent out also arrived and the combined team relieved the woman’s son and took over CPR efforts. They attached a defibrillator, opened an IV line, continued chest compressions, and provided assisted ventilation. A minute later, three other volunteers from United Hatzalah who live in the Jewish neighborhood of Pisgat Ze’ev arrived, one of them was regional paramedic Yonatan Rosenfeld.


Rosenfeld, a father of four who works at Tel Hashomer Hospital and at Terem as a Physician’s Assistant saw that the woman was responding to the treatment and told the team to stop CPR efforts so that he could check for a pulse. To his pleasure, he found one. He told the team to stop their efforts and continue with ventilation, and after another few minutes, the woman began breathing on her own once again. The CPR had been a success. A few minutes later the mobile intensive care unit (MICU)  arrived and prepared the woman for transport. The volunteers from United Hatzalah assisted in carrying the woman down the stairs and placing her on the MICU ambulance.


“When you help another person, there is no greater purpose than that. You arrive to help someone who is having an emergency, you provide the best medical care that you can give and hope for the best,” said an excited Baha after the successful CPR. “When it all works and I end up saving a life, that is the greatest feeling. Today, I am so happy that I feel like I am flying. This CPR took less than ten minutes and we brought this woman back to life, back to her family.”


Baha said the fact that he is Muslim and the woman is Jewish has no bearing on the actions he would take, “I help everyone in need regardless of who they are. I live in the refugee camp in Shuafat, and I am always in and out helping people both in Shuafat and in Pisgat Zeev and wherever I happen to be. Those who live near me know who I am and what I do and they respect me and are proud of me. My family is as well. In fact, I  was so excited after the CPR that I went home and woke up my wife, and told her that I saved a Jewish woman’s life. I was brimming over with so much joy I just had to share it. She told me that she was happy for me but wanted to go back to sleep. I let her, but she knew that I had to share this feeling and she wasn’t resentful at being woken up. It’s part of what we do. There are sad moments and joyous moments, and saving a life like this is one of the most joyous.”

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