Late Friday night at around 11:30 p.m., a woman in her 40th week of pregnancy began to feel contractions in her home in the Galil. After a short deliberation, she and her husband decided to drive down to Poriya Hospital in Tiberias.

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Gal with her new nephew

The woman’s sister, Gal Shemesh, is a newly graduated United Hatzalah volunteer EMT who was spending the weekend with her sister. Gal had just finished her training course two weeks earlier. She understood that her sister was in a stressful situation, so she suggested that she drive the couple to the hospital in her own car.

During their trip, they realized that the birth was progressing faster than expected and they would not arrive at the hospital in time. Gal contacted United Hatzalah’s Dispatch and Command Center and identified herself to the dispatcher, saying she needed to deliver the baby on the side of the highway if necessary. The dispatcher alerted nearby ambulances and sent out the location of the laboring woman. He stayed on the line to help Gal as she delivered the baby.

Gal found a safe place to stop the car on the side of the highway near the Kadarim junction where Highway 85 and 65 intersect. The husband helped his pregnant wife out of the car and brought her to a clear area to give birth. Gal put on her vest and gloves and rushed to deliver her own sister’s baby.

Gal grabbed a blanket from the car and the one sterile sheet she had. Soon after her sister’s water broke her husband yelled, “I see the head.” Working quickly, Gal unfolded the sheets and began working with her sister on her breathing and coaching her through the birthing process.

As Gal warmed her hands, the baby appeared, a boy, and Gal caught the baby delicately. The umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck causing a dangerous situation for both the mother and child. Gal delicately inserted a finger between the cord and the baby’s neck and together with the new mother, the sisters unwrapped it from around the baby. The baby took in his first breath and began to cry. Gal placed the baby on his mother’s stomach, then covered them both with a warm blanket and ushered them back into the heated car to stay warm. Gal continued to monitor the vital signs of both the mother and the baby while the family awaited the arrival of an ambulance to transport them the rest of the way to the hospital.

Sometime later, the Intensive Care Ambulance Unit arrived with a birthing kit. They respected the mother’s privacy and handed over the equipment to Gal. She cut the umbilical cord with the help of a paramedic, then the newborn baby, his mother, and father continued on their way to Poriya Hospital for follow-up care.

After the successful delivery, Gal said, “It was a great privilege to deliver my own sister’s baby. I finished the EMT course two weeks ago so the whole scenario was a bit stressful for me. I was extremely nervous until I put on my bright orange United Hatzalah vest. All at once, the stress I was feeling disappeared and I started to feel as if I was no longer a new, inexperienced, and anxious EMT. The vest restored my confidence and reminded me that I am a trained EMT with the knowledge and skills necessary to help my sister through a smooth and safe birth.”

Gal added that another factor that helped her keep calm was the assistance she received from the dispatcher. “The reassuring voice of the dispatcher accompanied me every step of the way. He was extremely helpful and I am so grateful for all of his guidance and advice. Despite the stress, I am confident that I provided the best care that I could for my sister.”

Gal concluded by saying, “I had thorough training by the most amazing people, especially our main instructor, paramedic Ehad Atia. Ehad taught us the material but also taught me to believe in myself and instilled me with the knowledge that I am capable of dealing with any situation I encounter. Thanks to that, I succeeded in taking control of the situation and delivering a baby on the side of the highway. I am delighted to announce that at around 1:15 a.m., I helped deliver my own nephew and that both he, as well as my sister and brother-in-law are all happy and healthy.”

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