Photo Credit: United Hatzalah
(L to R) EMTs Asher Elmasi and David Sfedj, Yosef and Hedva Cohen, and EMT Joelle Cohen.

A few weeks ago, in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo, Yosef, in his 50s, experienced heartburn as well as weakness in his left hand. Recognizing these early signs of a potential heart attack, his wife Hedva called an ambulance.

Responding swiftly to the distress call was Joelle Cohen, a volunteer EMT and a member of United Hatzalah’s Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit (PCRU), accompanied by volunteer EMT Asher Elmasi. They assessed the man’s condition, provided crucial care, including administering aspirin, and remained vigilant as they awaited the arrival of the intensive care ambulance team.


After an agonizing 40-minute wait, the intensive care team finally reached the scene. Moments after their arrival, the man experienced a cardiac arrest. Joelle and Asher sprang into action, working in tandem with the intensive care team to resuscitate the patient using chest compressions and electric shocks.

In the whirlwind of urgent medical intervention, Joelle’s attention was drawn to Hedva, who suffered emotional shock, with her world hanging in the balance as her husband was fighting for his life. Joelle stood by her side, offering solace with the recitation of Psalms, instilling strength and hope during those uncertain moments.

Yosef was eventually transported to the hospital and survived the incident. He is expected to make a full recovery. Since the incident, Joelle, who happens to share the couple’s last name, has become close to the family.

“The fact that I recited Psalms with Hedva during the incident created a special bond between us,” she explained. “I also called her twice after the incident to check on them. It really moved her.”

Last week, Joelle and Asher, together with David Sfedj, the head of United Hatzalah’s team in the neighborhood, who is a friend of the family, visited the couple in the hospital. Hedva expressed their gratitude and unwavering admiration for the volunteers, saying, “You not only arrived quickly and helped save my husband, but you also took care of me, helping me stay calm in this difficult moment. I cannot thank you enough.”


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