Friday 10:30 the United Hatzalah dispatch alerts me to an unconscious man nearby to where I live in Pisgat Ze’ev. I’m sitting with my family, having just finished breakfast and my wife is with me. I look at her, she nods and I take off. I rush to my car which is a registered emergency vehicle and I head over to the street. I don’t need to punch in the address, I know where it is. The man is unconscious at our local synagogue having stayed to study following the morning prayers. He was still wrapped in his prayer shawl and phylacteries.

Ariel Ben David (left) with volunteers Itamar Hamo, Gavriel Struck,  and Ischak Hadad

I arrive two minutes later, sirens wailing. The mobile ICU ambulance arrives just after me as they too were only a few blocks away. We head into the synagogue. Compressions are begun, a monitor is attached, our patient is in VFib. More volunteer first responders arrive. Some from the Binyamin region in Samaria who were near by, others from east Jerusalem who were also close by. I’m shocked as a volunteer responder who lives in Carmel in Judea walks in. The town is some 60 kilometers away from Jerusalem.


A shock is advised, we clear the patient and the shock is given. Compressions continue, the airway is stabilized and drugs are administered. Slowly the patient begins to regain a pulse. More drugs are administered in order to stabilize the patient. The patient begins to breathe once again. I, together with the other volunteers help get the patient on the ambulance and he was whisked away to Hadassah Har Hatzofim hospital.


After the Sabbath, I spoke to the man’s wife. Thankfully she told me that her husband was conscious and well and on his way to making a full recovery. Our early intervention prevented any lasting brain damage.


One of the things that inspire me most when I go out on these emergency calls is that I see our volunteers who come from all over. Muslim, Christian, Jewish, it doesn’t matter who you are or if you know the patient or not. It doesn’t matter if you know the other volunteers who you are kneeling shoulder to shoulder trying to save a person’s life with or not. The mission, the task at hand unifies us in purpose and we all worked together like a well-oiled unit. People from different neighborhoods who don’t know each other come together quickly in order to save a man’s life. It takes my breath away every time.

Ariel Ben David (left) with volunteers Gavriel Struck, Itamar Hamo and Ischak Hadad 1

I am the Deputy Director of Volunteer Relations at United Hatzalah and it is my job to know the volunteers in the organization, to know what makes them tick and what problems they may have and how to solve them. It is also my job to keep up morale and help support our volunteer when they need it. Whenever I go out on calls like this, it is them who uplift and support me by displaying their drive, their energy, and their desire to help, no matter what they may have been in the middle of.


As is our custom, after a rescue call, I broke open a cold drink and passed it around to each volunteer who came to help. It’s a small token of the organization’s appreciation for the selfless work. A token for the immense gift that they have given me in their unified drive to help others. Their energy keeps me going. It is something we do for the patients and for each other.