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Patient Care

Stories from the Streets: In Less Than Two Minutes

My name is Nati Osteri, and I am a volunteer EMT with United Hatzalah of Israel. On a recent Sunday a 70-year-old woman was crossing the street in Jerusalem when she was struck and run over by a massive truck, severely injuring her legs. Horrified witnesses quickly called for help.

I was visiting a friend just down the street from where the accident occurred when the urgent call came in on my United Hatzalah communication device. When I received the call, I grabbed my helmet and ran out without so much as saying a word to my friend. I apologized to him later for rushing, but he has known me long enough to expect this when we meet. I bolted out the door, leaped on my ambucycle, and raced down the street. Due to my proximity it took me less than a minute to arrive—and it was a good thing, too.

I quickly looked over the scene and saw the woman was suffering heavy bleeding from both legs. I guessed her femoral arteries had been severed and she was in the process of bleeding out. I knew this would be fatal if not stopped immediately. In Israel United Hatzalah provides CATs (Combat Application Tourniquets) as standard equipment for all EMTs, but only one. I opened my bag and grabbed it and applied it to one of the woman’s legs. Great—one femoral bleed stopped.

In our medical equipment bags we also carry regular tourniquets. I grabbed another and applied it to the woman’s second leg. From the time I arrived, I’m pretty sure less than a minute passed until the woman had tourniquets on both legs. In less than two minutes, I had literally saved this woman’s life.

An ambulance from our organization arrived a few minutes later and helped stabilize the woman’s condition. We opened an IV and began giving her fluids while we prepared her for transport. The ambulance then took her to the nearest trauma unit for further care.

In our field of work, seconds count. This scenario was just one example of, had we arrived a few moments later, there would have been no patient to save. The location technology, training, and equipment I received from United Hatzalah very much saved this woman’s life that day. I am happy to have been there for her and thankful I was able to help.

I am just one of 5,000 volunteers from United Hatzalah who respond to more than 1,100 calls a day and save countless lives in Israel. The fact that the volunteers going about their daily lives will drop everything to save the lives of those suffering medical emergencies nearby makes Israel a safer place for all citizens.

Nati Osteri is a volunteer EMT with United Hatzalah of Israel.

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