A woman in her 70s was eating lunch last Friday in the town of Nof HaGalil in northern Israel when she suddenly choked on her food, suffocated, and her heart stopped beating. Her son immediately called for help, and two United Hatzalah volunteers who live nearby, EMTs Chana Wolf and Shimon Yom Tov Weiser, received the alert and rushed over to the scene.
“I was in the middle of cooking for Shabbat when I received the alert about the woman who had collapsed,” recalled Wolf. “The alert said it was cardiac arrest, so I dropped whatever I was doing, turned off the stove, and yelled to my husband that I had to go and he should watch the kids. I rushed to my car and in less than two minutes reached the location.”
“As I entered the house together with Shimon, an ambulance arrived and two more EMTs rushed in,” She continued. “We began CPR as a team. While doing compressions and prepping the equipment for assisted ventilation, we opened the woman’s mouth and noticed a blockage. The woman had choked and that’s what caused her to collapse.”
Weiser was also cooking for Shabbat when he received the alert. “I live across the street from Chana and saw her heading out of her house. We followed each other to the emergency.”
Weiser described the team’s CPR efforts: “We used suction to clear out a bunch of the food and alternated compressions and ventilation. A defibrillator was attached, but it didn’t recommend shocking. When the mobile intensive care ambulance team arrived they joined our efforts. The entire team continued compressions, ventilation, and suctioning her mouth until one of the EMTs checked and found that the woman’s pulse had come back. We performed CPR for about 30 minutes.”
Weiser also described how well the whole team worked together: “I’ve been a volunteer EMT for more than ten years. I knew the people who responded pretty well—Chana as well as the ambulance team. We worked well together and thankfully our efforts paid off and the woman is alive.”
After the woman’s pulse returned she was prepped for transport and the team transferred her to the ambulance while maintaining assisted breathing.
“This is my first year as a United Hatzalah volunteer and already I have been to a number of successful CPRs,” Chana said. “I feel that every time I go out to another emergency I learn more and am able to respond and act faster. My children are used to my rushing out and responding to emergencies. We could be in the middle of a story or reciting the Shema, and if my radio sounds an alert my children tell me to run out and save a life. They understand what this means and the act of chesed (loving-kindness) that I’m doing. I’m so proud to be able to teach them about the importance of helping others through my actions.”
Weiser concluded: “Going home to celebrate Shabbat with my family after helping to save a woman’s life was a terrific feeling. Thankfully, I’ve been involved in a lot of successful CPR calls and each one is unique and special and gives the people involved in the rescue a high. Taking that high into Shabbat with my family, especially since my wife and I are still celebrating the recent birth of our newest son, is very special.”