Last Saturday night, United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Hen Rotenberg, a resident of Srigim––a small town south of Beit Shemesh, was about to step into the shower when her communication device alerted her to a medical emergency nearby: an 89-year-old woman had just lost consciousness in the nearby kibbutz of Netiv Ha-Lamed-Heh.
Hen had guests coming over, but of course, didn’t hesitate and responded to the emergency. She had already participated in two unsuccessful CPR efforts the week before and was determined to do everything in her power to make sure that this resuscitation would have a different outcome.
“I live in an area where there aren’t as many first responders as there are in the cities,” she said. “If I didn’t respond, I’m not sure how long it would be before another person arrived. Time is of the essence in cases like these, and this woman needed help as soon as possible.”
As Hen was rushing out the door, United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Yona Rabinowitz from Beit Shemesh, who also received the alert, stopped his learning session with his son, climbed on his ambucycle, and rushed over to the same emergency. A local doctor arrived together with the two volunteers and they discovered that a relative had placed the elderly woman on the ground and was performing chest compressions.
Hen and the other responders took over and launched into full CPR. They attached a defibrillator and rotated between rounds of chest compressions and assisted breathing. In a few minutes, additional volunteers were arriving at the scene, followed by an intensive care ambulance. The MD on the scene administered adrenaline as the team continued to work together to save the woman’s life.
After an hour of CPR efforts, the team was growing weary, but eventually, when Hen stopped to check if the woman had regained a pulse, she was surprised to realize that she had, and the woman was then quickly transported to the hospital.
“It was already getting late after an hour of CPR,” Hen related. “We were all getting pretty tired. The woman is at an advanced age, and seeing as there hadn’t been much improvement in her condition over the hour, we began to expect the worst. But I knew we shouldn’t give up. When the woman’s pulse finally returned, we all became ecstatic.”
“I have done numerous CPR’s in the past, but this one taught me an important lesson,” Hen said. “We were tested many times that night. Were we going to simply let life take its course, or were we going to fight and do everything in our power to help this woman survive? Time and time again we chose to fight and worked together like a well-oiled machine to bring back the woman’s pulse. As a result, we witnessed the miracle of a successful CPR and the human tenacity to live.”