United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Levi Yitzchak Ben David, originally from Union City, N.J., now lives with his family in Tzefat. He works as a caterer and is often seen around the city rushing to help people suffering from medical emergencies. He has been one of the most active volunteers in the northern Israeli city for the past 15 years.
Recently Ben David visited the grave site of the great Davidian-era warrior and sage Benayahu Ben Yehoyada, located in the neighboring village of Birya. As he was entering the compound, he spotted a young man with a disability being led into the site by his parents. As he supported his son, the father asked Levi to grab a few prayer books from the car. A few minutes later the mother discreetly approached Levi and asked him, “Is that your ambucycle outside? My son was in a serious accident half a year ago near the municipal soccer fields. His life was saved by a United Hatzalah volunteer. I’ve been looking to find the volunteer so I can thank him.”
Glancing again at the young man, Ben David found himself going back to that early October afternoon. A motorcycle had been struck by a truck on a narrow, winding hill, and its two riders were thrown through the air before landing on the hard asphalt some 50 meters apart from one another. Ben David had been nearby when United Hatzalah dispatchers alerted him to the harrowing accident. Without hesitation he raced to the scene on his ambucycle, arriving alongside a fellow United Hatzalah volunteer EMT.
Both motorcycle riders had sustained severe traumatic injuries to multiple body systems. Among their other injuries, both were suffering blocked airways. The EMTs split up: Levi treated a young man lying facedown on the road, and his colleague began treating a female rider who was moaning in pain. Levi asked a passerby to assist him in turning the victim over so he could provide treatment and hopefully get the young man breathing again. Once on his back the patient started to breathe on his own, although quite faintly.
As additional volunteers arrived, Ben David administered oxygen to stabilize the young man’s breathing, bandaged his wounds, and applied a neck brace for c-spine stabilization. He then took vitals and monitored the rider’s condition until an ambulance could arrive.
With the arrival of ambulances, the United Hatzalah volunteers assisted in loading the victims aboard the emergency vehicles, which whisked them to nearby Ziv Medical Center for further treatment. Within minutes the clamor of the accident scene had dissipated, and Ben David was left to gather his equipment, uncertain of his patient’s fate.
Looking again at his young patient now, Levi grasped how momentous his actions had been. “I remember,” Levi told the woman. “I got there on the very ambucycle you see outside. I’m the medic who saved your son’s life.” Growing emotional, the woman called her son over to meet and thank his “angel in orange.”
This young man’s second chance at life was due to the quick medical intervention he received at the scene from Ben David and the rest of the EMS teams, as well as the hospital staff who continued the treatment. “I’ll forever remember this story,” Levi says. “Part of being a first responder means we drop whatever we are doing to rush out and save others. Rarely do we get to see the results of our work. I am thankful I got the opportunity to do so today. The satisfaction I received from meeting him goes beyond words. It fills me with such joy that I simply cannot explain it.”
Raphael Poch is the international media spokesperson for United Hatzalah, Israel’s national volunteer EMS organization.