Photo Credit: United Hatzalah
United Hatzalah volunteers on an ambulance shift (illustration)

Early Sunday morning this week, Shimon Afgin and Avi Gian, two Jewish volunteer EMTs with United Hatzalah, were on their scheduled ambulance shift in Jerusalem when they were alerted to a nearby emergency on A-Sahl Aljadid street, in the heart of the Sheikh Anbar neighborhood of eastern Jerusalem.

The two EMTs calculated all the information they had received from the dispatch center, along with the danger of entering eastern Jerusalem during the ongoing violence of the past few weeks. They decided that a life was on the line, so Shimon turned on the siren and they drove off to the location.


Arriving at around 3:20 AM, along with another mobile intensive care ambulance, the team found the pulseless man, 45, on the floor of his apartment. After a quick vitals check, Shimon and Avi noted that this was a case of cardiac arrest.

The team quickly began performing CPR, with the help of the additional ambulance crew, everyone on hand switching off rounds. A defibrillator was attached and two shocks were administered, yet the man’s pulse did not return. The paramedic from the ambulance crew administered medications and the team continued with the CPR efforts. 40 minutes later, a pulse was detected by the heart monitor that had been attached.

Once the combined crews managed to stabilize the man’s pulse, he was loaded into the MICU ambulance and the paramedic administered a sedative to allow the man’s body to more easily recuperate and stabilize. The streets were empty that early in the morning, and so the teams parted ways and left the neighborhood safely.

“There is one thing I live by as an EMT – when a life is on the line, I do whatever it takes,” said Shimon. “I am from Jerusalem, I receive many alerts of emergencies in eastern Jerusalem and I always respond. I don’t see religion, race, or ethnic background as a reason to refrain from doing what is right. All I see is a person who needs help. Even in these times, when it’s very dangerous to enter the eastern side of the city, and I am risking my own life, I still drive into the Arab neighborhoods, somewhat blinded by the will to help, but doing it in as safe a way as possible. I knew that the hour was early, and most people would be sleeping and that was to my advantage. After a quick discussion, Avi and I agreed to take the chance to save a life because after all, you miss all the chances to help others that you don’t dare to take.”


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