Last Monday at 9:30 PM, four United Hatzalah volunteers were participating in an advanced EMT training class, three of them were Jewish men: Alon Goldenberg, Yoni Butbul, and Israel Yaakov Avitan, and one, Sanaa Mahameed, a religious Muslim woman. At one point all their emergency communication devices began ringing, alerting them to a nearby medical emergency. An 80-year-old resident of the moshav of Ram-On, south of the Jezreel Valley, suddenly lost consciousness while parking his car. Pedestrians who were walking by alerted his family and called United Hatzalah’s Dispatch and Command Center.
The team of EMTs along with the instructing paramedic rushed over to the given location. They arrived three minutes later to find that the elderly man had been pulled out of his car and laid down on the street, and a family member was attempting CPR with guidance over the phone from the Dispatch Center.
The team of first responders quickly took over the CPR effort. A few moments later a doctor who lives in the neighborhood arrived to assist. The doctor administered Adrenaline and Sanaa attached a defibrillator which advised a shock. After one shock, together with assisted ventilation and chest compressions, the man’s pulse suddenly returned.
Still unconscious, the man was taken to the hospital in a mobile intensive care ambulance, and the team returned to their training session.
“You will not see many religious Muslim women out responding to emergencies,” said Sanaa. “However, despite the common misconception that men and women, Jewish and Muslim, cannot work together, I’ve never felt safer in the company of my peers and fellow EMTs than I do working together with other volunteers from United Hatzalah. When I or my fellow first responders are on medical emergencies, we don’t see race, religion, or gender, we see an emergency, and a person who needs our help. By focusing on our common goal of helping others, it is easy to put the politics aside and even build bonds of friendship with one another and that’s what happens in this organization.”