Stories from the Streets: Help in 60 Seconds
Last week I was driving with my family in northern Israel when my United Hatzalah radio crackled to life. The dispatch center was alerting everyone in the area to a three-car pileup that had occurred a bit farther down the highway. I glanced at my wife, and she gave me a knowing look.
I put on my blinkers, kicked the car into high gear and raced straight to the scene. I reported my arrival to dispatch within just 60 seconds, and a sense of pride coursed through me when the dispatcher wasn’t even surprised—our volunteers often arrive at emergency scenes in 60–90 seconds. That is the beauty of what we do.
I pulled over to the shoulder of the highway in front of the accident, so as not to get stuck in the traffic jam beginning to form behind us, and got out of my car. My wife waited patiently and entertained our children while I went to check on the victims.
I grabbed my United Hatzalah vest and medic bag and approached the vehicles. The passengers and concerned onlookers were shocked to see an emergency responder arrive on scene so quickly—one of them was even still on the phone giving collision details to the police.
I began a triage survey of the passengers and damaged vehicles, then headed to the most critically injured victim first. The man was bleeding from several lacerations on his forehead and had several suspected limb fractures. I bandaged his wounds and stabilized his limbs. I then went to treat the next patient. One after another, I treated six victims who had sustained a variety of injuries and required treatment of some kind. Luckily they were all light injuries, but they easily could have been worse. Other responders began to arrive, and together we managed the medical and emotional needs of all the victims, treating, calming and reassuring them until the ambulances began to arrive some 30 minutes later.
One aspect of this story that inspired me was that the victims represented a true mosaic of Israeli society—Jews, Christians and Muslims—and that they all cared about each other’s welfare almost as much as their own. Volunteers from all backgrounds, treating people from all backgrounds—for me it really represents the core values of United Hatzalah. We respond to all people in need and provide each of them with the professional care they require in the minutes that matter most. That is what preambulatory and prehospital care is all about.
Eliyahu Agliyahu volunteers for United Hatzalah in northern Israel.