I was sitting at my desk one morning in my office in Ness Ziona, a city approximately 7½ miles south of Tel Aviv, when I heard the familiar beep of my smartphone’s emergency medical application. It was the sound of United Hatzalah’s emergency dispatch and command center notifying me that a medical emergency was taking place in my vicinity and I was being dispatched as one of the five closest responders. I dashed outside to my ambucycle, raced to the location just a few blocks from my office, and found an unconscious woman lying on the street. I began CPR on the spot. After a few moments the ambulance arrived and its crew took over, continuing CPR while they transported her to the hospital.
I was on my way back to the office when I was dispatched to another call, this time for a patient at a nearby retirement home. Yet another unconscious, pulseless patient in need of CPR. Together with the retirement center’s staff, I immediately began it. They were not used to this kind of emergency care, but I was able to guide them through and instruct them on what to do. It was fortunate I was able to get there so quickly, because when it comes to CPR, timing is everything—I knew each second counted. We all worked tirelessly as a team in an effort to save this man’s life. Unfortunately we did not succeed this time. In our field this happens sometimes. In spite of the unfortunate outcome, I went back to work and continued my regular job.
A few hours went by, and I was able to get some work done. But then I heard the beeping once again, and it was back to the ambucycle. I raced to the location of the new emergency and found a man lying unconscious in a pool of blood. He was outside an auto shop and had fallen eight meters from the roof to the ground below.
After a quick and thorough medical assessment, I got to work stanching the patient’s massive cranial bleeding, which was the major source of the blood that had pooled around him. As I worked I was joined by another United Hatzalah EMS volunteer. Together we managed to secure the victim’s airway, immobilize his broken bones, and start an IV. In addition to the obvious external bleeding, I noted signs of significant internal abdominal bleeding as well and worked to stabilize the injuries.
By the time the ambulance arrived, we had succeeded in reestablishing respiration. We loaded him gingerly onto the stretcher and watched as the ambulance drove off to the nearest trauma center.
One of the paramedics who had joined the call told me afterward that my speedy arrival to the scene and quick intervention had gone a long way toward saving the man’s life. This is exactly the knowledge—that I’m making an impact on people’s lives and doing so much more efficiently with the help of my ambucycle—that constantly affirms my decision to volunteer for United Hatzalah. The ability to provide fast care to patients who require immediate attention while they wait for an ambulance is of the utmost importance. Recognizing that what I did today saved a life helps give me the strength to continuously drop whatever I’m doing and head out to emergencies.
Once again I headed back to my office, where I managed to get a bit more work done. I’m very lucky to have a supervisor who is supportive and appreciative of my volunteer work. Of course I always ask permission before responding to a call and claim fewer hours if I’m out in the field for an extended period. But it’s nice to work with people who understand the importance of what I do. My boss even asks me how my calls have gone or what I’m heading out for this time. He goes so far as to tell me to “be safe” when I go out in the rain. He’s a bit of a mother hen, but I appreciate it.
After a long and tiring day of work and responding to emergency calls, I was happy to hop back on my ambucycle, this time to head home. As Murphy would have it, I received yet another emergency alert while en route. I once more turned on my siren and lights, raced over to a nearby traffic accident, and treated one person for mild injuries. It just goes to show that a volunteer EMS responder’s work is never done. We are always in service. This was, like the day before it and the day before that, just another day at the office.
Nadav Eran is a volunteer with United Hatzalah in Ness Ziona, Israel.