My name is Avigail Beer, and I’m a volunteer EMT with United Hatzalah. I was recently headed to Sinai for a vacation with my friend Naomi Lasry, who is also a volunteer EMT, when we received an alert to a medical emergency near our location.
The alert told us a woman was in active labor near the Ramon crater. I had never been to the crater before, and we were in the middle of nowhere with no one else around. No cars or buses were on the road, and everything was completely dark. I told the dispatcher we were in the middle of the desert, and he confirmed we were close to the location. He helped direct us to an ATV waiting by the highway. The driver led us off-road, further into the desert. I thought my tires were going to pop riding over the dirt paths and rocks.
After another seven minutes of off-road driving, we arrived at a tent. The place was completely dark. We turned on some flashlights and saw six children running around and screaming for us to help their mother.
We ran over to where they indicated and found the woman in the middle of giving birth. The baby’s head was already visible and in the crowning position. I told the mother I was with her and that she should push. I had to do this in pantomime because, as she was Bedouin, she didn’t speak any of the languages I speak. But she got the message and pushed. After a few strong contractions, we heard the baby’s first cries. Just moments after we arrived, I was holding a new life in my hands.
I helped the mother get dressed and put her shoes on. There was no one else around. No electricity, no lights, no running water—just her, the driver of the ATV, and her children.
I’ve delivered a few babies now, and every time it fills me with excitement. It is challenging, highly emotional, and extremely empowering. This time, however, was completely different. Delivering a baby on the floor of a tent in the middle of a desert is an experience I will never forget. In spite of the language barrier, it felt like we were almost family because we were there to help this woman in her time of need.
For me this experience really represented what it means to be a United Hatzalah volunteer. We aren’t simply EMTs who come assist a person and leave. We are empathic people, interrupting our daily lives to rush out and help everyone we can. That help often goes beyond the simple medical procedures required of us. We put an emphasis on fulfilling all the needs of the person in need of medical assistance.
In this instance we saw one of the other children upset and crying after he saw and heard his mother in pain. We sat with the child and calmed him and made sure all the others were cared for before we left.
As an EMT I have come to know a lot of different people from different places and cultures. Every person I treat is a world unto themselves, and there is a lot to be learned from them. It has been an eye-opening experience, and I think volunteering as an EMT is the greatest thing one can do. It allows me to help anyone and everyone, regardless of who they are, where they live, or what religion they believe in. It is simply the greatest thing one can do in this world.
Avigail Beer is a volunteer EMT with United Hatzalah.