A few weeks ago, United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Shalom Klein (29) was grocery shopping for Shabbat at Hadar Mall in Jerusalem when he was suddenly drawn to the sound of cries and shouts emerging from the vicinity.

Responding to the commotion, Shalom discovered a highly distressed woman who urgently directed his attention towards a nearby car, screaming, “She’s not breathing, she’s not breathing.”

The volunteer immediately rushed to the car and discerned upon closer examination that the woman’s infant, who appeared to be around one year old, had likely choked on a snack. He leaned into the vehicle, turned the baby over, and performed back blows, causing a piece of pretzel to come out. The baby girl instantly began breathing again. The EMT remained with the family to make sure the child was out of danger and reassure the family, before returning to the mall to finish his grocery shopping. 

“The mother expressed her gratitude towards me. It was a rewarding experience in the midst of an ordinary day,” Shalom recounted. “I found it challenging to fall asleep at night from all the emotion.”

Asked about his feelings during the critical moment, Shalom responded, “At that instant, my thoughts were absent, and it was purely instinctual. It was only afterward that I reflected on the situation.”

Shalom stressed that United Hatzalah requires volunteers to undergo additional training sessions regularly. “Just two weeks prior to this incident, I had participated in a training session focused on CPR and choking scenarios. It was a good refresher,” he noted.