Working Together To Save a Life
On Monday afternoon, a 28-year-old man collapsed for unknown reasons in his house on Yerushalayim Street in Afula. His worried mother called emergency services for help.
United Hatzalah volunteer EMTs Keren Ezouz and Imad Zoabi received the alert and responded to the emergency.
Keren, a Jewish EMT from Kibbutz Heftziba was shopping nearby when she received the alert. “I went to Afula to take care of some errands in the “big” city. I walked into a stationery store in order to purchase a binder and I received the emergency alert from United Hatzalah’s Dispatch and Command Center. I left the store, raced over to the building, and ran up the stairs into the family’s apartment,” Keren said.
Keren was the first responder in the room and saw the man’s neighbor was already doing CPR. “I took over doing compressions and a few moments later I was joined by a mobile intensive care ambulance team. They were understaffed so I asked the dispatcher to send more volunteers.”
The ambulance team attached a defibrillator. As Keren asked the mother what caused the man to collapse, the paramedic from the ambulance told her that they had already responded to an emergency for this same person earlier in the day.
“The man’s mother said that he may have been suffering from an overdose, so the team administered Narcan but it had no effect,” Keren relayed. This is when Imad, a Muslim EMT from United Hatzalah, who drives a private ambulance for HaShfela Ambulance service walked in.
“I was near the hospital when I received the notice from the dispatch that Keren was in need of assistance. The address was nearby so I rushed over to help. When I walked in, I saw the team administering CPR. The paramedic, who is a friend of mine for many years and with whom I have responded to many medical emergencies, asked me to help and see if the man’s pulse had returned. Together, we were able to determine that a very weak pulse did indeed return and we stopped CPR while continuing to administer assisted ventilation until the patient stabilized. It was a terrific team effort.”
Keren and Imad have gotten to know each other through their volunteering at United Hatzalah. Keren, a married mother of one, is originally from Ra’anana and didn’t grow up knowing any Muslims. “When my husband and I got married and had our first child, we wanted to leave the city and move to somewhere where we felt more at home raising a family. We came to Kibbutz Heftziba and after I developed my practice I joined United Hatzalah as an EMT. I’ve met many terrific people through my volunteering, including Imad and Adi Kanias, the local chapter head of United Hatzalah in Afula who also arrived to assist in the CPR.”
Imad, a Muslim EMT and ambulance driver from the town of Tamra-Yizrael, is married with three children and had been involved in emergency medical services (EMS) for the past 15 years. “I have gotten to know and become friends with a lot of people and we all share the same goals, the same ethos, to help anyone around us in need of medical assistance. These goals bring us together and we become friends through these shared ideals.”
This is not the first CPR for either Imad or Keren, nor is it the first time that they have responded to a medical emergency together. Imad said: “Whenever I perform a successful CPR it always gives me a great feeling like the heavens are the limits. I’ve thankfully done a lot CPRs. This is a terrific field to be in, and the people in it, people like Keren and Adi are wonderful.”
Keren added: “This man is really young and there is no reason that he shouldn’t die at a ripe old age. Thankfully, Imad, Adi, and I together with the ambulance crew worked together hand-in-hand and we were able to bring him back. It was a relief to all of us that he survived. Unlike many patients whom we perform CPR on, this man has a good chance of survival.”
Keren also volunteers in the Ha’Emek hospital as part of United Hatzalah’s emergency room hospital assistance program. She was on shift that night and went to visit the man whose life she helped save earlier in the day. “To say that he was doing well would be an overstatement. Unfortunately, he has had a lot of complications, but he has a chance to survive and he was breathing, so that is a good sign already. Doctors were not able to determine what caused the heart attack, but his condition was certainly more stable than when we brought him in in the afternoon. It was good to be able to visit him. I certainly hope that he makes a full recovery. Thanks to the work of the entire team this man has a fighting chance.”