Just before the end of the fast of Tisha B’av on August 11, United Hatzalah’s dispatch and command center received an emergency call regarding a man choking in the town of Oranit.
Our emergency app automatically alerted me to the call, as I was one of the closest responders to the scene. I was coming back from treating a person involved in a motor vehicle accident and was passing the Oranit terminal on Highway 5. As soon as I received the emergency alert, I turned on my sirens and took the exit. I raced to the address I received on the app, and when I arrived at the house, the wife of the choking victim was waiting outside. She quickly ushered me in.
I saw her husband lying unconscious on the floor. The woman said he had choked and urgently asked me to help him. The couple’s children had begun CPR and were switching places as they did compressions on their father. A dispatch center operator was giving them instructions over the phone.
I immediately attached a defibrillator and then joined the CPR efforts. After the first shock other EMS volunteers began to arrive.
In the next few minutes, we gave two more shocks—and then something weird happened: After the third shock the foreign object on which the man had choked flew out of his mouth. We were so surprised, we all took a second to realize what had happened. During that moment, with the blockage removed, the man began to breathe on his own again.
When the mobile intensive care ambulance arrived a few minutes later, its crew found a stable patient who was semiconscious. I assisted in preparing the man for transport and loading him into the ambulance. He was taken to the hospital for further treatment, and I was told he regained full consciousness there and is expected to make a full recovery.
I had never seen something like this happen, but I am thankful I was able to be a part of the team that saved this man’s life. I look forward to hearing in the coming days that he returned to his family.
To me, these types of situations are why I do what I do. I volunteer so we can prevent tragedies and help families stay together.
David Nagar is a volunteer with United Hatzalah in Sha’arei Tikvah, Israel.