On Monday afternoon at around 4:00 p.m., a worker in a local supermarket in Jerusalem lost consciousness and collapsed between the cash registers. His colleagues immediately called emergency services to help. 

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A United Hatzalah ambulance (illustration)

United Hatzalah volunteer EMTs Kalanit Taub, Avi Bakar, and David Sfedj were on an ambulance shift and they had just exited Begin Boulevard. They were heading towards Gilo when they got stuck in traffic. It was then that they received the alert about the collapsed man in the supermarket which was near their location, so instead of continuing on into Gilo, the ambulance team flicked on their lights and sirens and made a left turn towards Beit Tzafafa heading toward the supermarket. 


Having exited the traffic, it took them less than 30 seconds to arrive at the store. The three EMTs ran inside and found the patient sprawled out between the registers. When the volunteers took the man’s vitals they realized that he was breathing agonal breaths.


The team worked together fluidly and efficiently. Avi and David checked each side of the patient’s neck for a pulse, after which they found none. Avi relayed back to dispatch that they were initiating CPR. David connected a defibrillator, and Kalanit started compressions. 


After only two minutes, the defibrillator advised a shock and the EMTs delivered the shock and then quickly resumed compressions. After another 2 minute interval the defibrillator stated that it does not advise shocking, which usually means that either the person has returned to consciousness or that no electric activity is present in the heart and CPR must be resumed. The team checked the pulse once more and didn’t find one so they continued compressions. After a few more chest compressions, the patient suddenly tried to sit up signifying that his pulse had returned and he was regaining consciousness. 


“Very rarely does a patient return to full consciousness at the scene in a case where CPR is performed,” said Kalanit. “This patient not only returned to full consciousness very quickly but even tried sitting up. A few minutes later he was totally functional.” 


The EMTs switched the ambo mask that was fitted over the patient’s mouth, to an oxygen mask. Once they saw that his condition was stable, they allowed the patient to sit up and even brought him outside to sit on a bench on the sidewalk. “All the passersby couldn’t believe that the man’s heart had stopped working just minutes before and now he sat, perfectly fine, on a bench.” Kalanit continued, “I’ve been to a lot of CPRs, and a lot of successful CPRs, but this is the first time that the patient has woken up at the scene in such a short amount of time.” 


“I think that it’s all dependent on the fact that we arrived in such a short amount of time; they always say that the number one contributor to a successful CPR is fast response time. In our case, there were so many little things that happened to lead up to us being there at the right place at the right time.”

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