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Providing Emotional Care In a Stressful Situation
On Wednesday night at around 10:30 p.m., after an 88-year-old man suffered a cardiac arrest in his bedroom on Ramban Street in Haifa, a group of United Hatzalah volunteers rushed over to his house to save him.
Three of the United Hatzalah volunteer EMTs who responded to the incident, Miry Brach, Liat Anaf, and Devory Tolovitch, were driving back to their homes after finishing an ambulance shift when they were alerted to the emergency. They turned around and drove straight to the address without a moment’s hesitation. An additional United Hatzalah ambulance as well as two other EMTs were also in the area, so they too rushed to the scene. All of these responders arrived together at the address in under three minutes.
Upon their arrival, the combined team found the elderly man’s daughter, a woman of around 53-years-old, performing chest compressions on her dear father. Miry, Liat, and Devory, immediately noticed that she was struggling both physically and mentally while doing CPR, so they brought her into another room to speak with her, as the other paramedics and EMTs continued the resuscitation on the man.
In the other room, the women switched roles from being EMTs to members of the Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit and began to treat the woman by providing emotional support and psychological stabilization.
“The woman looked as if she was about to faint from both the CPR and the stress of the situation.” said Miry, “She told us that she has a very close relationship with her father. After many years of watching over him and taking care of him, she was overwhelmed with the fear that he wouldn’t make it. We explained to her that the medical personnel are fully trained and capable and that they were trying their best to help him. After a few minutes, we were able to calm her down. Sometimes the emotional treatment can get overlooked, but it’s just as important as assisting someone who has been physically injured.”
The daughter explained to the women that her father has a history of health problems. However, just a few minutes before, he had felt fine. As he was walking to the restroom he tripped and fell, so his daughter helped him into his bed. That’s when he lost consciousness. She immediately started CPR and the caretaker called emergency services for help.
The Resuscitation process lasted a total of 30 minutes, during which all the medical personnel worked together flawlessly and efficiently as a team. To everyone’s relief, the elderly man’s pulse returned. They fit him with an assisted breathing device and transferred him into the ambulance.
Once her father was safely transported to the hospital, the daughter thanked the women profusely for staying with her and taking the time to calm her down. She said that she felt a strong connection with them and that they were able to understand her even just from being with her and speaking to her, women to women.
After the incident, Miry said, “I was so happy that I was a part of helping this woman and her father, that I was charged with adrenaline all night. It was hard for me to even fall asleep afterward. This is what United Hatzalah is all about and I am happy to be a part of it.”
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