On a recent Wednesday morning just after 3 a.m., United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Hanoch Re’em, a resident of Jerusalem’s Neve Yaakov neighborhood, had just returned home from a night shift when he heard his communications device buzz. A medical emergency had occurred a couple of blocks away. Re’em jumped from his bed and raced to the given location.
Upon arrival he was met by two fellow volunteers, Moishy and Michael. The location they received from dispatch was an office building—clearly incorrect. Due to the early hour, the team had limited resources but struggled to locate the real address. They were notified that the incident was an injury, and the victim was unconscious—thus every second counted. The EMTs knew they had to work together to locate the victim. The dispatcher helped the team search the street until they found the correct building, an apartment.
The EMTs entered the residence and were caught off guard by the amount of blood all over the floor. They found an 89-year-old man sitting on the floor of his bathroom with a bloody leg. While they were taking an oral history, the man explained he suffered from weak veins, and a vein had burst due to this condition. The man was conscious but losing a lot of blood quickly. The team bandaged the man’s leg carefully and stopped the bleeding while waiting for an ambulance to arrive. They then proceeded to assist the man downstairs to wait. Once the ambulance arrived, the man was transported to the nearest hospital.
But the volunteers felt their job wasn’t done. Before leaving the scene, Re’em realized the man’s 90-year-old wife was left with a bloody floor and messy apartment. She was disabled and needed a walker—the EMTs knew they couldn’t leave her alone to clean up the horrifying mess. Despite the hour, the three volunteers stayed and cleaned the entire apartment.
“It was not simply cleaning another man’s blood off of the floor,” Michael said. “We made sure to clean every bit with chemicals and warm water so the woman wouldn’t have to be reminded in the morning of the horrible sight. We agreed to do this together, and it was inspiring to see the difference this small act of kindness made for the man and his wife. It was the right thing to do, and I feel honored to be part of a team that cares so much about others that even at 4 in the morning, they take the time to do an act of kindness for another person they don’t even know.”
Re’em added, “As an EMT, I feel like my job does not consist only of medical aid but also helping the family and anyone else involved with the person I was called to help. It felt obvious that after the man was transported we should stay and help clean the apartment. The aftermath of the emergency is no less important than the emergency itself.”
Raphael Poch is the international media spokesperson for United Hatzalah, Israel’s national volunteer EMS organization.