A 35-year-old mother of two collapsed in Acre during the traditional Mimouna celebration at 12:45 AM Sunday. She had suffered a heart attack and fell unconscious in front of her family and friends.
The Mimouna is a traditional North African Jewish celebration dinner held on the night following the last day of Passover, marking the return to eating chametz.
Nearby, United Hatzalah volunteers Lipaz Hatuel, her husband Shmuel, her mother Shira Amsalem, and one of their guests, Eran Lev, were celebrating the Mimouna together at the home of Lipaz and Shmuel—when all their emergency alerts came to life simultaneously, pointing them to the emergency taking place a few blocks from their location.
Lipaz, Shira, and Eran rushed to their cars and sped to the location of the emergency, while Shmuel stayed behind to watch the children and entertain the family’s guests. “We ran out so fast that Lipaz didn’t even have time to change her shirt, which was a traditional garb for the festival,” said Shira.
Once at the scene, the three EMTs met with the ambulance team that was just arriving and joined together to perform CPR on the woman. “We alternated performing compressions and providing assisted ventilation on the woman,” said Lipaz. “All the while, the woman’s children, both teenagers, were screaming hysterically as they watched the proceedings, and prayed that we would save their mother. My mom, Shira, who in addition to being an EMT is a volunteer with United Hatzalah’s Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit, took them into a different room and began to calm them down. It allowed us to work on the woman, and thankfully our efforts were successful – after nearly an hour, the woman’s pulse came back and she began breathing once again.”
“The children were hysterical,” recounted Shira. “It took a long time and a lot of effort to calm them down and help them process what was happening. They had gone into emotional shock after seeing their mother collapse. I was so sad to see how much pain they were in. Thankfully, utilizing the techniques I have been trained with, and some of my own skills as a mother, I was able to finally calm them down. Once their mother’s pulse had come back, I was able to relay this information and it helped them even more. I am so thankful that the CPR was successful and that their mother will come back to them.”
Speaking about what it’s like to respond to medical emergencies with her family members, Shira smiled with pride and said: “It is really uplifting to see how brave and strong my daughter is. She makes me proud every time we rush out together to save lives. Her husband Shimon is also a volunteer and that, too, makes me proud. Rushing out together with one’s family to medical emergencies is something that brings us closer as a family. It’s a great feeling.”
“At the beginning, I used to rush out by myself since I was the first volunteer in the family,” Shira recalled. “Now my daughter passes me and runs out faster than I do. Whenever we are in synagogue together, or at a meal together, she is out the door well ahead of me, and even before her husband. It doesn’t matter which emergency it is. It could be a shooting, a light injury, or someone with shortness of breath. I am so proud of both of them and the work that they do in helping those around them no matter the circumstances. There is no greater satisfaction for me as a mother.”