Photo Credit: U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Malcolm McClendon
Angeline Sanchez, a Texas State Guardsman, practices the Heimlich Maneuver on a dummy, Aug. 14-16, 2015.

On Friday afternoon in Rechovot, a 5-year-old girl was enjoying a lollipop on the street with her parents, then the candy got stuck in her throat and she started to choke. Her panic-stricken parents immediately called emergency services while desperately crying for help in the hopes of someone coming to save their beloved daughter.

Chani Vaknin, a United Hatzalah volunteer EMT, works as the manager of a supermarket in Rechovot. Although she was busy at work, as soon as she received the alert about the emergency nearby, she quickly left the grocery store and raced down the street toward the scene.

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Chani recalled, “When I arrived, the girl’s face was bright red, and she couldn’t speak or let out any sound. I wrapped my hands around her and performed the Heimlich Maneuver.”

After two thrusts, the candy popped out of the young girl’s mouth and she was able to gulp down a breath of fresh air once again. Chani, together with the girl’s terrified parents, had a deep sigh of relief seeing that the worst of the danger had passed. The girl’s parents thanked Chani profusely for her help and speedy arrival. Chani reassured them that she was happy to help.

After the incident, Chani reflected on the rescue and said “Thankfully, I was just a few buildings down and was at the scene in just a few seconds. Otherwise, her condition could have deteriorated drastically, even to the point of requiring CPR.”

This is not Chani’s first time saving a child from choking on a candy. In January 2019, when Chani was working behind the counter in the grocery store she manages, she noticed a 4-year-old boy had begun to choke on a candy. He had his hand over his mouth and neck and his face was showing signs of pain and distress. Chani ran around the register counter to where the boy was standing and performed the Heimlich Maneuver, which sent the candy flying out of his mouth.

“In both instances, I had a truly amazing feeling afterward,” Chani related. “Thanks to this simple intervention, another person’s life was miraculously saved. It just goes to show that one should always be prepared to help others no matter when or where, as it could result in someone’s life being saved. When it comes to treating children it is even more stressful, and in the end, it’s even more emotionally uplifting when we succeed.”

Israel Peretz, head of the United Hatzalah team in Rehovot, said, “Once again, we witnessed a significant life-saving incident performed by United Hatzalah volunteers in our city. It shows how important it is that we have as many fully-trained EMS volunteers across the country as possible. The more EMTs and paramedics we have trained and with a full complement of equipment out in the field, the more lives will be saved. I would like to thank Chani together with all of the other volunteers of the organization in the city of Rechovot and across the country for all that they do to save the lives of others.”

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