On Sunday, Sarah, a recently graduated volunteer EMT with the women’s unit in United Hatzalah wasn’t feeling quite right. She did a quick mental assessment of her symptoms and compared what she felt to what she learned in her EMT training. After assessing herself with what seemed to her like a pulmonary embolism (PE) she went to seek medical assistance at the hospital where the triage nurse in the emergency room laughed at her. Sarah insisted and after performing a blood test and follow-up CT scan, the hospital staff confirmed that she had a minor PE. She received heavy blood thinners and stayed in the hospital for observation to make sure that her situation got better and that she passed the clot.

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Female EMT helping transport patient (illustration)

“I had spent 24 hours feeling like something was wrong,” said Sarah, who wished to keep her last name anonymous. “I had chest pain, difficulty breathing, and dizziness. After 24 hours of this, I said to myself “maybe I am suffering from a Pulmonary Embolism”. I learned about them in my medic course and to always consider symptoms like mine as a suggestion of PE presentation. So I went with my husband to the hospital where they laughed at me. “It’s very unlikely that you, a young healthy woman, are having a PE,” they told me.”

Sarah continued her retelling of the story. “After having blood results than indicated I was 3 times more likely to be having a PE, they rushed me into a CT scan to look for a clot. Sure enough, when reviewing the CT there it was. A PE in my lower left lung. A smaller one but one nonetheless. They immediately gave me heavy blood thinners and kept me for observation.”

Neither Sarah nor the medical staff at the hospital knew where the PE came from, but the medical teams told her, they never would have even thought to look for it, and her training saved her life.

“I want to say thank you to you and United Hatzalah for my EMT course as it actually saved my very own life today,” Sarah said.