One recent Tuesday at 4:30 p.m., United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Menachem Slovatizky was returning in his ambulance from an unsuccessful CPR when he was suddenly alerted to another emergency: In an old-age home in Bnei Brak, an 80-year-old woman had begun choking. As the alarmed staff called United Hatzalah’s dispatch and command center, the woman lost pulse and consciousness. Receiving the alert on his communication device, the hopeful volunteer rushed with his ambulance to the given address.
Slovatizky arrived in under two minutes, along with United Hatzalah volunteer Dr. Daniel Barsky. They located the pulseless woman and launched into full-blown CPR. Slovatizky began with chest compressions and assisted breathing, while Barsky administered dopamine to stabilize her blood pressure.
After 20 minutes the woman’s pulse returned but was unstable, fading in and out. The volunteers worked tirelessly to stabilize the woman’s condition. After a full hour of CPR, the woman’s pulse stabilized, and she began to regain consciousness. The woman was then taken to Slovatizky’s ambulance waiting outside and transported to the nearest hospital.
After dropping the elderly woman off, Slovatizky was alerted to another CPR incident. Without any time to regain energy, he sped toward the given coordinates to try to save another life.
“Three CPRs in one day is not irregular for me,” Slovatizky says. “I am a full-time volunteer, which means I eat, sleep, and breathe emergency medicine, and that comes with a lot of CPRs and responding to a wide range of medical emergencies. It’s become a part of who I am. Emergency medicine has become not only the life I know but the life my family experiences too.
“Sometimes when a CPR is unsuccessful, a responder can become less hopeful about the chances of saving the next patient as well. But the more emergencies involving CPR that a first responder assists at, the more successful CPRs they experience, and the successful ones tend to balance out the unsuccessful ones. That is what being a volunteer is about: enduring the bad experiences and learning to grow from them so we can be better and succeed at the next one.”
Raphael Poch is the international media spokesperson for United Hatzalah, Israel’s national volunteer EMS organization.