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Patient Care

Stories From the Streets: Treating Injuries of the Body and Mind

My name is Kayla Tzur, and I am a volunteer EMT with United Hatzalah. I live in Jerusalem with my husband and work as a doula. But when an emergency occurs nearby, I rush out to help, no matter what else I may be doing (except helping a woman give birth). 

One recent weeknight it was 8 p.m., and I was relaxing at home when United Hatzalah’s dispatch and command center alerted me to a motorcycle accident nearby. I was one of the closest responders to the scene, so I immediately grabbed my helmet and rushed out of the house to my e-bike, shouting a hurried good-bye to my husband (who is pretty used to me doing this by now). I flicked on my lights and raced to the accident site, arriving in under a minute.

The accident had taken place on George Washington Street in Rehavia. A woman was driving a car and did not see a motorcycle racing toward her on an adjacent street. The car made a turn at the corner and smashed into the motorcycle, sending the motorcycle driver flying in the opposite direction. 

The 30-year-old victim lay on the ground, his dented helmet already off his head and lying in the street. The man was fully conscious but had sustained numerous injuries to his limbs and torso. He was in severe pain, able to do little more than wince and groan. I looked over his injuries and noted he had suffered a broken hand and leg. The leg was bent out of the socket, and blood was seeping through his ripped jeans. Suspecting an open break, I wasted no time in staunching the bleeding and bandaging his wounds.

Next I opened the motorcyclist’s jacket and used trauma bandages to wrap the severe injuries across his torso. I splinted his limbs and then looked up to see the first ambulance arrive. When the crew came over, I gave them the patient’s assessment and assisted them in carefully loading the victim inside the ambulance so as not to aggravate his injuries. They transported the man to the closest trauma center for further treatment. I then turned my attention to the distraught driver. 

Other EMS personnel had arrived and already begun caring for the woman, who was badly shaken up by the accident. The middle-aged motorist was not able to control her trembling for fear she had killed the motorcyclist. In addition to my EMS duties, I am part of United Hatzalah’s Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit, and I knew my presence as another woman would go far toward helping the terrified motorist.

I approached her and began calming her via simple breathing techniques, which I’ve used many times as a psychotrauma responder as well as in my practice as a doula. I assured the driver over and over that she was not alone and that the man she hit was stable and already on his way to the hospital to receive the best care he could get. I sat with her, fastidiously monitoring her vitals, until a second ambulance arrived and transported the still-shaken driver to a nearby hospital for emotional stabilization and further observation. 

In situations like this, where time is of the essence, I am proud I’m able to arrive at emergencies in my vicinity as quickly as possible thanks to my electric first response emergency bicycle. Providing treatment in the first few minutes can make all the difference in the world. 

Kayla Tzur is a volunteer EMT with United Hatzalah in Jerusalem.

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