On the night of Simchat Torah (Shmini Atzeret), a young seminar girl who was visiting with a local member of the Nachlaot community in Jerusalem together with other students from her seminary, ate a salad, that unbeknownst to her, contained peanuts. The young woman has a strong allergy to peanuts, which is something that her host did not know. The woman suffered an anaphylactic reaction during the holiday dinner. The terrified host called United Hatzalah’s Dispatch and Command Center for help. The dispatcher put the information into the automated computer system which automatically alerted the closest first responders.

United Hatzalah EMTs holding an Epipen after treating a person suffering from anaphylactic shock Illustration 225x300 1
United Hatzalah EMTs holding an Epipen after treating a person suffering from anaphylactic shock (Illustration)

Eliyahu Lapidot and Mordechai Oved, both of whom are United Hatzalah volunteer EMTs were having their own holiday dinner when they received the notification alerting them to the emergency. They rushed out of the house they were in, grabbed their equipment, and ran one block over to where the incident was occurring. The pair of EMTs arrived in less than one minute and saw the girl having breathing difficulties. She had a swollen neck and as well as blotchy skin and her windpipe was closing up. Eliyahu took out an EpiPen from his medical kit and administered the injection into the girl’s thigh. A few moments later the girl’s medical condition began to stabilize as her swelling decreased.

Mordechai and Eliyahu then performed continual checks of her vital signs including taking the young woman’s blood pressure, blood glucose level, pulse rate, and oxygen saturation level, and opened up an intravenous line. Mordechai and Eliyahu waited with the girl until a mobile intensive care unit ambulance arrived and transferred her to the hospital.

‘’Incidents such as this often happen on holidays and I always prepare myself beforehand for any emergency that could happen,” Eliyahu said after the incident. “The EpiPen I used today was mine, and it is very crucial for volunteers to have EpiPens due to emergencies such as this. I’m glad that I was able to provide medical assistance to so many people as an EMT because saving lives is the most important value in life.’

Mordechai added to Eliyahu; ‘’I personally feel honored to save lives on holidays, during such a holy and joyous time of year where everyone wants to spend time with their families.  If I have the ability to prevent a tragedy at a time that is supposed to make people happy, then it gives me great pleasure. This is why I go out and keep saving lives. As for the incident on Shmini Atzeret, we were lucky that Eliyahu had an EpiPen. Due to the worldwide shortage of these devices, EpiPens are hard to come by and not all of our volunteers have them. I think that it is an essential tool for all of us to have so that we can administer them in cases of anaphylactic emergencies.’’