Photo Credit: United Hatzalah
Gilad Auerbach's parked ambucycle. In the distance are the farm workers the EMT cared for.

Gilad Auerbach, a veteran United Hatzalah volunteer EMT from Kiryat Malachi in southern Israel, in mid-July entered a period of voluntary self-quarantine, after being exposed to a fellow first responder who tested positive for the coronavirus.

He wound up spending several days in isolation away from his family at United Hatzalah’s regional volunteer center in Sderot, and was overwhelmed by the generosity of the volunteers, who brought food, drinks, and gifts to make his stay comfortable.

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The day after his quarantine had ended, Gilad was back in action with his ambucycle and responded to multiple emergencies. The first incident was near Gilad’s home and involved a 70-year-old man who tripped and fell on a staircase, sustaining a serious head injury. Gilad rushed to the scene and dashed up to the third floor in three minutes.

He and another EMT applied a trauma bandage to the man in order to stem the heavy bleeding and carefully monitored the man’s vital signs as they reassured concerned onlookers. It took 40 long minutes for an ambulance crew to join them at the scene. When the ambulance finally arrived, Gilad and his colleagues immobilized the gentleman on a backboard and carried him down the narrow stairwell. He was then evacuated to the Assuta Medical Center in Ashdod for further definitive care.

In another call later that same day, Gilad had just returned home when his United Hatzalah communication device alerted him to another trauma in nearby Moshav Segulah: an injured farm worker in the fields surrounding the farming community. Gilad jumped back on his ambucycle and followed his GPS app for two and a half miles on unpaved paths through the fields. He finally found a group of farmhands huddling around the injured man.

The worker was sitting in an open field without any protection from the hot summer sun. Gilad pulled out an emergency blanket from his medical kit and instructed the other workers to provide shade while he took the injured man’s vital signs and examined his swollen arm for signs of trauma.

The patient didn’t speak Hebrew, so his employer translated. Apparently, the man had been picking watermelons when he suddenly felt a sharp, stinging sensation in his arm. Gilad treated the injury, immobilizing the man’s arm and prepping the patient for medical transport. An ambulance arrived a few minutes later and loaded the foreign worker for evacuation to a regional medical center.

As he was cleaning up and grabbing his medic’s bag, Gilad was approached by the worker’s employer who thanked him for his quick response and insisted that he take with him a freshly picked watermelon, which the EMT consumed shortly thereafter, in his air conditioned apartment.

“It was a very full day of lifesaving,” Gilad confessed. “The call at Moshav Segulah took place during the hottest part of the day out in a field with no shade. Treating the farm worker with my jacket and helmet still on after the ride on dusty roads made things more difficult. We also were not sure what had bitten him. There were no obvious marks from a snake or a centipede. Regardless of all of the external factors, I was happy to be able to be there and provide the foreign worker with the care he needed.”

Commenting on his time in isolation Gilad Auerbach said: “Isolation, especially when one is away from their own family as well as their community, is difficult. I am so thankful that my United Hatzalah community stepped in to help me during my time of isolation. I am even happier to be done with isolation, healthy, and able to go back out and respond to medical emergencies and help others. It is something that I really missed while I was in isolation.”

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