Monday around 1:30 PM, a 4-year-old boy was swimming in a pool in Pardes Hana near Hadera when he suddenly suffered a seizure and began to take in a lot of water, causing him to drown. People in the pool screamed in a panic since the boy was unresponsive. They didn’t understand what was happening to him. The lifeguard on duty called emergency services, asking for help. He then dove into the pool to save the boy and swam to the edge of the pool with the boy in his arms and started to perform CPR.
United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Aviad Kaatabi was enjoying ice cream with his kids in a shopping complex nearby. He received an alert about the drowning boy, realized it was happening just down the street from where he was sitting, stood up, and told his children he was going to save a little boy and would return momentarily. The children were content with their ice cream and didn’t mind waiting.
Aviad arrived within 30 seconds of receiving the call and watched as the lifeguard was trying to revive the boy with CPR. Aviad jumped into the pool fully clothed––nothing could stop him from saving the boy’s life. He carried him out of the pool and laid him on top of a picnic table. The boy’s vital signs weren’t good. The boy wasn’t breathing and his pulse was weak. Aviad saw no evidence of water flooding the boy’s lungs and figured the boy had not drowned, he only suffered from a seizure in the pool and swallowed large amounts of water. Aviad pressed on the boy’s stomach to trigger reflux, to which the boy started puking out the water he swallowed in the pool along with the contents of his stomach.
By this time, other United Hatzalah volunteers had arrived to help Aviad treat the patient who was still unresponsive and completely unconscious, even though his eyes were wide open. The EMTs repeatedly checked his blood oxygen levels and other vitals. They gave him a steady flow of oxygen and his breathing was slowly restored and his pulse strengthened. As the EMTs were waiting for the intensive care ambulance to arrive, they cleaned the boy up from his vomit and prepared him for transport.
Aviad reassured the boy’s mother, who was obviously disturbed by what was happening, that her son was going to be okay. “I told her that her son would continue to get treatment in the hospital and that there really was nothing more to worry about.”
“I left that incident with my clothes sopping wet from jumping in the pool. My kids thought I looked funny, but they were also proud of me for helping a little boy.”
Later that day, Aviad visited the boy in the hospital after he had already undergone an assessment in the emergency room and received treatment. “I was so happy to see that the boy was doing well and the staff was confident that he would be released soon. He was still asthmatic, and it was still hard for him to breathe independently, but thank God, everything else was okay, and he is recovering well,” Aviad said.