My name is Benny Dadush, and I am a United Hatzalah volunteer EMT. I live and volunteer in Or Yehuda, a town in which everyone knows me, especially my fellow EMS volunteers. Our team of first responders in the area really feels like a second family. What really made that feeling apparent was something that happened last night, when I was pranked on my 50th birthday.

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Benny Dadush at his surprise 50th birthday party

My family, my fellow responders from our local chapter, and the head of my chapter, Yuval Schleiffman, all got together to surprise me in a very unique and heartwarming fashion. I had just returned from a three-day vacation in Eilat with my wife—a gift from our children. Coming home home from a fancy hotel with chocolates on the bed and flowers in the room, it was great to reflect on the warmth and relaxation of the vacation as I got myself ready for the next day’s work at the office. My wife and I settled in, unpacked, and I took a shower and was taking care of some chores when my radio went off and alerted me to a medical emergency nearby. A motorcycle had run into a car, and the driver was lightly injured. I headed over and was one of the first responders on scene. I treated the driver for his wounds and then got back in my car to head home. This was when things got interesting.

As I was driving I was alerted to another call, for a man having chest pains in a nearby restaurant. I notified the dispatch and command center that I was on my way and rushed over. I parked outside and grabbed my bag. I rushed into the restaurant, where to my surprise I heard a lot of people shout my name. I turned to see my family, friends, fellow EMS responders, and a lot of other people from the community standing together with sparklers and birthday hats on. When they shouted “Surprise!” it was my heart that almost lost its pulse. From the adrenaline rush of a cardiac call to the rush of having all my loved ones in a room together, jumping with glee to celebrate my birthday, it gave me quite the shock. It took me a few moments to realize what was happening and that the cardiac call had been staged. I was the only one dispatched, and everyone I knew, even the dispatch center operators, had been in on it. For that many people to keep a secret was quite impressive.

Nothing like this has ever happened to me before, and I was really surprised. For me it was the truest congruence of everything important: My immediate family, my friends, my EMS family and colleagues—everyone was there to celebrate with me, and I want to thank each and every one of them for such a weird and wonderful surprise. I’ve been volunteering for a long time, and I’ve had plenty of surprises in the field, but never one with so much joy and love. It really brought home for me the idea of just how much of a family this organization and my fellow responders truly are. We have often mourned together, but last night we celebrated together in a very special way.

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