Shai Romano and Moti Tzulshan are volunteer EMTs with United Hatzalah in Netanya. On Sunday they went to visit Elirav Zarchia, a patient at Laniado hospital whom they treated a week previously. 


A week earlier, the pair received an urgent alert from United Hatzalah’s Dispatch and Command center alerting them to a man who had collapsed on HaHashmonaim Street in Netanya. While he was riding his bicycle, Elirav Zarchia had suffered a cardiac arrest and collapsed, unconscious and not breathing. When it comes to medical emergencies and in specific when it comes to cardiac arrest cases, the time in which medical intervention is initiated is of utmost importance and can be the determining factor as to whether the patient lives or dies. 

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Romano kissing Zarchia on the forehead after seeing him alive.

United Hatzalah of Israel is known for having the goal of arriving at the scene of a medical emergency in less than 90 seconds. Today, the average response time is very close to that goal. In the case of Elirav, the short time it took for Romano and Tzulshan to arrive made the difference in saving his life. 


“We arrived and immediately began CPR. We provided compressions, assisted breathing and electric shocks from a defibrillator. Paramedics who arrived continued advanced CPR and we were very thankful to see cardiac activity return on the heart monitor a short time later,” Romano recounted. Romano owns a boutique gift store called “Bu-ot Rikma” which is located on Raziel Street and is situated very near to where the incident occurred. Romano has an emergency electric bicycle that has all of the medical equipment necessary to save a life on board.    

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Romano and Tzulshan with Zarchia

“We often finish a CPR call where the monitor shows the return of cardiac activity and a pulse being restored. However, in most cases, we don’t get any updates about how the patient is fairing in the hospital and we don’t always merit the chance to see them wake up or fully recover,” Tzulshan said. “With the case of Elirav, we were notified that he recovered and regained full consciousness in the hospital. Once we heard that, we went together to visit him in the hospital.” 


The volunteers entered the ward where Elirav was situated with hearts full of joy. They were still unaware of the surprise that awaited them there. When they walked into the room they saw Elirav sitting on a couch with a huge smile on his face. “You saved my life,” he told the volunteer EMTs. “When I had the cardiac arrest, my mother appeared before my eyes and told me, “You are not needed in heaven, you are needed on earth.” I now see exactly who the angels are who helped bring me back. Thank you for my life.” 


Romano was overcome with emotion and kissed Elirav on his forehead and said: “It is for moments like this that we are volunteers. We stay on duty 24/7 in order to make sure that when we are ready when needed for emergencies such as these. When we were performing CPR on you I prayed that we would see this very moment where you were awake and smiling. Seeing you gives us the strength to keep going out on call after call and doing what we do to save lives. It was worth it for me to close my store and lose some business in order to stand here right now.” 


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