Photo Credit: United Hatzalah
United Hatzalah ambucycle and e-bike volunteers responding to an emergency.

A 73-year-old man who was suffering from several prior medical conditions collapsed on Sunday morning on Zangvil Street in Jerusalem. His alarmed family members called emergency services for help to save his life.

Four United Hatzalah volunteers received the alert and they all responded. Two of the volunteers, Yaakov Ezra and Yossi Polishuk, responded on their ambucycles, while Yitzchak Levi responded in his car, and Yossi Zilberstein responded on his emergency e-bike. Each of them dropped whatever they were doing to respond.

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Polishuk works in Bayit Vegan in the finance department of a large yeshiva and had asked the Rosh Yeshiva for a special meeting to discuss some urgent issues ahead of the holiday. “I received the alert just as I was heading to the meeting. I sent him a message telling him that I had to rush out to respond and we’d have to push the meeting off. I feel bad that he set aside time for me and I canceled on him. This isn’t the first time it happened, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. When a life is on the line, there’s no question of whether to respond or not, everything else has to wait.”

Yossi Zilberstein was shopping for books for Hanukkah when he received the alert. “I put down the book I was perusing for Hanukkah and rushed out of the store,” Zilberstein said. “I was nearby so I arrived at the scene quickly even though I wasn’t on an ambucycle like some of the other responders.”

When the volunteers arrived they found the man unconscious in bed. They lowered him to the floor and after finding no vital signs, initiated CPR. “His family members told us that the man had complained of feeling unwell last night and this morning. When they saw that he was unresponsive they called for help,” Zilberstein said.

The team performed compressions, administered assisted ventilation, and attached a defibrillator. “The defibrillator did not advise a shock as this was a case of asystole cardiac arrest and not ventricular fibrillation,” Zilberstein explained.

“We asked dispatch to send a mobile intensive care unit as we were alone and needed to administer medications, which only a paramedic is allowed to do,” Polishuk added. “Until they arrived we kept up CPR in rotation, hoping to keep the man alive until they could get here and transport him to the hospital.”

When the ambulance finally arrived the paramedic administered adrenaline and the team worked together for an additional 25 minutes to resuscitate the man. “His pulse kept coming back and then fading again,” Polishuk said. “It was a tough fight, but we finally got a stable pulse and were able to prepare the man for transport. He was sent to the hospital with a steady pulse and we are all hoping for the best.”

“It’s difficult to be in a position where a whole family is counting on you to save their loved one, especially just before a holiday,” said Zilberstein. “I’m happy that we succeeded at bringing back this man’s pulse and I hope that he recovers so that he can be reunited with his loved ones. Being part of this right before the holiday of Hanukkah gave me a lot of joy.”

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