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When the Ambulances Don’t Get There Fast Enough You Need to Step Up and Help
Shlomo Tausky works for a non-profit organization known as Ezer M’Tzion. He is married with two children and lives in Haifa. In addition to his work, Shlomo volunteers with United Hatzalah as an EMT and also serves as the Deputy Head of the Carmel Region. He has been an EMT volunteer for the past three years.
A few weeks ago, a man was shopping at a store in Haifa and suddenly fell to the floor in a fit of seizures. The frightened store owner quickly called for emergency services to come and help the man. Shlomo was on his ambucycle when United Hatzalah’s dispatch alerted him to the nearby emergency. He immediately gunned his engine and raced to the scene. He was the first responder on site. As he parked in front of the shop and grabbed his medical kit, Shlomo saw a municipal ambulance coming towards the location.
The shopkeeper met Shlomo at the door and led him to where the man was convulsing on the floor. Shlomo secured the man’s airway and carefully protected his head during the elongated bout of seizures. After some minutes had passed, Shlomo wondered what was taking the ambulance crew so long to arrive. As he was attending to still convulsing patient, Shlomo asked the shopkeeper to call dispatch and enquire about the ambulance. A minute later the shopkeeper told Shlomo that the ambulance had responded to a car accident and that an intensive care ambulance was on its way from Kiryat Ata a town northeast of Haifa.
As an experienced EMT, Shlomo knew that the man’s elongated seizures could result in brain damage or even death due to lack of oxygen and that it would take an unacceptable amount of time for the mobile intensive care unit to arrive from Kiryat Ata. He told the shopkeeper to immediately request any available ambulance in the area to rush to the scene. A few minutes later an ambulance arrived, but with only the driver.
Shlomo and the driver quickly lifted the still convulsing man onto a stretcher and loaded him into the ambulance. As the ambulance was short-staffed, Shlomo rode along to the hospital to safeguard the patient during transport. He and the driver rushed the still-convulsing man into the emergency room, and Shlomo updated the treating physician as to the length and severity of the man’s seizures. It took two doses of anti-epileptic medication for the man to finally stop convulsing. One of the nurses came to thank Shlomo – she said if he had not gotten to the man to the hospital as soon as he had – the patient most likely would not have survived.
Following the incident, Shlomo said: “Saving lives gives me a feeling of satisfaction to know that I help others on a regular basis. I began learning about emergency medicine as part of a family safety course that I took with United Hatzalah for my own personal reasons so that I would know how to help my family. At the time I was working partly in a bank in Haifa, and I sensed a commotion happening behind me. I got up to look at what was happening. I saw a woman standing in the middle of the room and she was choking. This was shocking to me to see a woman choking right in front of my eyes.
Everyone was standing up and no one seemed to know what to do. I thought someone for sure would know what to do or know how to help her better than I would but no one moved. I moved. I ran to her and performed the Heimlich maneuver. My actions saved her life. After she successfully dislodged the blockage from her windpipe, she calmed down and by the time the ambulance arrived, she refused their services and because by that time she was fine and the danger was over.
When they opened the next EMS course in Haifa I signed up knowing that in the time of need, I need to know what to do, because if not me, who else will.
I began as a volunteer as I wanted to help save lives. The heads of the chapter saw that I was interested and that I was hard working. They gave me an ambucycle, and then they asked me to be the deputy head of the region. I knew saving lives was important and I thought that if I could help others do what I did, then my family, my community, and other communities would be safer. I didn’t expect to be put in charge of 200 other volunteers. I am happy that I am because the work I do now saves even more lives. From one small course of four hours, I ended up becoming a force multiplier to save countless others, and all because of knowing what to do and how to do it when the time came. The message I learned that day is that we all have a responsibility to help others and that often there isn’t enough time to wait for an ambulance. When people suffer a medical emergency they need help right then and there and I am thankful to United Hatzalah for teaching me, equipping me and empowering me to be the one to step up and help.”
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