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Patient Care

Stories From the Streets: The Gift That Keeps Giving

Amir Hayek is an IT specialist, a volunteer in a French Christian religious hospice called the Sacred Heart, (Sacre Coeur), and a United Hatzalah volunteer EMT and ambucycle driver. Hayek, an Israeli Christian, volunteers at the convent for the same reason he volunteers for United Hatzalah: He loves to help people. Both the convent and United Hatzalah treat Muslim, Christian, and Jewish people alike. The convent treats children with severe handicaps, and United Hatzalah treats people suffering medical emergencies before an ambulance can arrive. 

Two weeks ago Hayek was at work when he received an alert for an unconscious child at the hospice. His workplace is very near Sacre Coeur, and Hayek immediately dashed outside, jumped on his ambucycle, and sped over. Already familiar with the facility, he drove through the complex and was urgently directed to one of the physiotherapy rooms.

There a physiotherapist was frantically performing chest compressions on a 13-year-old boy. Hayek swiftly took over, administering expert compressions as another United Hatzalah EMT arrived to assist. The duo performed CPR until an ambulance crew joined the effort. They set up an IV line and provided cardiac drugs. After 40 minutes of combined toil, the team succeeded in regaining cardiac activity, stable blood pressure, and independent breathing. Hayek assisted in transferring the young patient onto a stretcher, and he was rushed to the hospital for further treatment.

“For me, being able to help this child was a great relief,” says Hayek. “I know him personally, and I’ve played with him many times in the past. When I was called to do CPR at the hospice and saw who I would be doing it on, I put all emotions aside and focused on the timing, consistency, and depth of the compressions. I wanted it to be perfect to give him the best chances of survival. 

 “I almost lost hope 35 minutes through the process,” Hayek continues, “as we were having a difficult time getting the boy’s pulse back. When the paramedic finally managed to open a vein and administer medication, it gave me excitement and energy that helped me focus and push onward. Ten minutes after we administered the medication, the boy’s heart began to beat once more. It was a tremendous relief for me. I, together with the paramedics, staff, and volunteers who work at that hospice, consider the children part of our own family. I did everything I could that day to make sure I didn’t lose one of my brothers.”

Hayek concluded by saying, “It is at times like these that I recognize just how grateful I am to be part of United Hatzalah. Being part of the organization gives me the opportunity to help others in situations I never even dreamed of. Helping another person, being part of a team that saves a life, is a gift I can give to others which they in turn keep on passing as long as they live.”

Raphael Poch is the international media spokesperson for United Hatzalah, Israel’s national volunteer EMS organization.

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