Stories from the Streets: Hysterical Siblings
On Sunday my radio sounded, shattering the tranquility of the afternoon. United Hatzalah’s dispatch and command center alerted all EMS personnel in the area that three children had been seriously injured while playing in a closed military training zone. Volunteers from our Elad team, who are unfortunately experienced in dealing with such situations, rushed to the location and began treating a seriously injured 14-year-old boy and two others who were lightly hurt.
The medical expertise and professionalism in our organization are top-notch, and the effectiveness of our rapid-response volunteers has long ago been proven. Therefore I don’t wish to dwell on the medical side of the incident, but rather on the emotional and psychological treatment provided at the scene.
As the ambulances began to pull away, transporting their patients to the hospital, I got a call on my radio from a woman named Liat, who told me she was from United Hatzalah’s Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit. She said she was standing at the entrance to the home of the parents of the seriously injured child and wanted to know if I could join her. I wasn’t quite sure what she wanted from me, but I’d heard good things about the unit and how it worked, so I headed over.
Once we entered the house, Liat began treating the two sisters and brother of the injured boy, all of whom were in hysterics. Before she began she spoke to the parents and received their permission to treat the other children. The boy’s siblings had been with the other children in the field when the explosion occurred. Having witnessed the explosion and injury to their brother, they were traumatized. Liat sat and spoke with them for more than two hours.
During this time she explained to them, in a language and style that was at their level, what had happened and what they could expect. She gave them a sense of empowerment and control and stabilized them from an emotional perspective. The children left the room after these two hours smiling and happy, having received the ability to process the trauma in a healthy way and move forward.
There is no doubt in my mind that the treatment Liat gave these children saved them from further psychological and emotional trauma. They saw their brother seriously injured and bleeding. They were helpless to do anything but call an emergency number for help. Liat restored their sense of control and perspective. She helped them realize they were not powerless and had indeed helped save their brother.
On behalf of the medical team that was present, I want to thank Liat and the psychotrauma unit for being there and doing this amazing work. I am proud to be a part of this big family that helps people in so many ways, on the emotional and psychological side as well as the physical and medical.
Asher Moskowitz, EMT-B, is a volunteer with United Hatzalah in Israel.