On Monday morning, just after 10:00 a.m. a woman in her 80s slipped in the shower and lost consciousness in her home on Sokolov Street in Ramat Gan.  

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United Hatzalah ambucycle (illustration)

United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Avi Wilman was out shopping with his wife in preparation for his brother-in-law’s wedding which was scheduled for Monday evening. Upon receiving the alert regarding the medical emergency, the couple, who live in Bnei Brak, but were right near the address when the incident occurred, rushed over to the home of the fallen woman. Avi grabbed the medical kit from his car while his wife stayed in the vehicle and was able to direct the other first responders who arrived after Avi.


“I ran up to the apartment where the woman lived and I saw that she had collapsed in the bathtub. Together with her helper, I pulled her out and laid her on the floor in the living room. I checked for a pulse and finding none, I attached a defibrillator and began chest compressions.” 


From this point onward, Avi said that everything that took place was against the expectations of what normally transpires during CPR. “I was expecting this CPR to fail. The Defibrillator did not advise a shock, and the woman was already advanced in years. Normally, those two elements together are a recipe for a tragic outcome, but not in this case.” 


Avi continued compressions and was joined by other first responders who provided assisted ventilation and rotated in and out of doing compressions with Avi. “All of a sudden, and even before the mobile intensive care ambulance (MICU)  could arrive, the woman’s pulse came back. Without a shock from the defibrillator, without medications of any kind, just based on the compressions that we were doing and the oxygen that we were providing her, the woman’s heart began to work once again. To say this is rare would be an understatement. I have been a volunteer EMT for a good number of years now and I have never witnessed or heard of something like this happening,” Avi added. 


When the MICU arrived, one paramedic told a second to check and see if the woman was responsive to pain. During the first attempt the woman did not respond, but she did on the second. “It took a few more minutes, and the woman then opened her eyes. Shortly thereafter, she was even able to tell the paramedics what area of her body was in pain. All-in-all, the woman was fully conscious and alert about 30 or so minutes after I arrived. I couldn’t believe it.”


Avi wasn’t the only one astounded by the speed and oddity of the woman’s recovery. “The woman’s daughter called me yesterday evening and told me that the doctors didn’t even sedate or intubate her,” Avi added. “This is common practice with patients, especially older ones, who have undergone CPR in order to allow their system to relax while medical personnel assess what caused the collapse in the first place and try to correct it. The daughter told me that her mother was in relatively good health and that both she and the doctors were a bit in shock because of it.”


“I am really excited that I was able to arrive so quickly and initiate CPR to help save this woman’s life. It was the strangest CPR I’ve ever participated in or witnessed. I have never before come across a situation where an older woman, already in her 80s, revived after losing consciousness, without a shock, without medications, simply from compressions and ventilation. Then to have her wake up fully, and talk to us, even  before going to the hospital, was simply remarkable.” 


Avi concluded by thanking his partner at the scene. “I just feel bad for my wife who had to wait for me downstairs for 40 minutes until everything was over. I try to never let that happen, never let my family get put into a frustrating position in order to allow me to go save a life. That too is strange. But my wife knows that she is also a partner in the actions that I undertake when I am responding. She too played a part in saving the woman’s life today, and for that, we are both happy.”

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