On Tuesday afternoon, a man in his fifties was swimming in the community pool in Beit Shemesh and began to feel faint. He grabbed one of the ropes along the swimming lanes and was showing signs of distress. Another swimmer coming from the opposite direction in the same lane saw him and pulled the man out of the water. The swimmer then called the lifeguard over and a defibrillator was attached while eye-witnesses called emergency services for help.
United Hatzalah volunteers who live and work in the vicinity received the emergency alert. Among them were the two sisters Yocheved Bienenstock and Susan Ducker (both formerly Wohlgelernter), who made aliyah from Toronto, Canada. There was also a close friend of theirs, Sara Zimbalist, who immigrated to Israel from Teaneck, New Jersey.
The three women arrived in quick succession and trio rushed over to the collapsed man to check his vital signs. Finding no pulse, the team initiated CPR. Yocheved began compressions and Susan and Sara worked on inserting an airway, attaching oxygen, and administering assisted ventilation. They spent five minutes alternating between compressions and assisted breathing before an ambulance showed up. During that time, other EMTs from United Hatzalah arrived and joined in the effort.
When the mobile intensive care unit arrived, the paramedics hooked the man up to a heart monitor and found that his pulse had returned – the CPR was a success. The combined team prepared the man for transport and loaded him into the ambulance that rushed him to the hospital.
“I don’t know what happened to the man afterward,” said Yocheved, “But I know that we did everything we could to save his life, including bringing his pulse back.”
Susan added, “It wasn’t quite clear what caused the man to suddenly feel ill. From what we were told by the man who pulled him from the water, he grabbed the rope, began to struggle to catch his breath, and then looked like he was going to drown. Based on the lack of a pulse it seems that this may have been a cardiac arrest. One thing we know for certain, we gave him a fighting chance at life and I’m thankful that I was able to be there and help. Doing so with my sister made my joy even greater. I feel that Yocheved always has my back, so I am more confident responding to emergencies when she is with me.”
Sara spoke about how special it is to have the opportunity to save lives in Israel: “My family and I just celebrated our 16th Aliyah Anniversary last week. To be part of United Hatzalah and take part in a successful CPR in Israel is not anything I would have imagined being part of when I made Aliyah. But being here and being able to help others is very special to me.”
Susan said, “When I was living in Toronto, I never thought I’d be responding to medical emergencies. Living in Israel builds a strong sense of social responsibility and a desire to contribute to the larger community. Canada is a beautiful place, but Israel has my heart.”