Stories from the Streets: Send in the Clowns

Stories from the Streets: Send in the Clowns

By Yishai David Turgeman Feb 26, 2018

One of the more interesting things about being a volunteer first responder is that you never know when or where you will receive an emergency call. Whenever that call comes, you drop everything and rush out. Naturally, sometimes it can catch you at moments that are less than convenient.

Last Friday, after volunteering as a medical clown, I was on my way to a wedding and decided to leave my clown costume on as entertainment for the bride and groom. Backtracking a little bit, my sister was killed not so long ago in a car accident, and in her memory my parents donated money to members of our community to help young couples be able to afford weddings. This was one of the weddings that benefited from that donation. So for my family and me, this was already a very special occasion.
After the wedding I headed home to my apartment in Tel Aviv, and just as I was taking off my costume, the United Hatzalah emergency application alerted me to a car accident just a few streets away. From the information provided, it sounded like a serious accident, which is often a matter of life and death. I didn’t think twice about going. When I was a soldier, we used to call these moments “bowl flippers”—the times when even if you’re eating, you rush out, and if you accidentally flip your bowl over, you don’t stop to clean it up, you just keep going.

I ran downstairs, jumped on my ambucycle, and raced to the location of the accident. I was one of the first responders at the scene. I began treating one of the injured people who was lying in the street—he was still in the process of understanding what exactly had happened to him. With a c-collar on his neck, he was looking up at the sky. I followed protocol to the letter and began taking an oral history. I asked him where it hurt to see where his injuries were, so I could begin treatment. When he saw me he smiled and didn’t even ask why I was dressed funny. He just assumed it had something to do with the upcoming Jewish holiday of Purim (which is celebrated throughout Israel by people wearing costumes and often makeup or masks).

Luckily for me the holiday is right around the corner (beginning Wednesday night), because otherwise I would have been stuck at a large-scale trauma scene dressed in sparkles and rouge without an explanation. Go try to explain that one to the patients or your fellow responders! 

I, for one, am glad the holiday is so widely celebrated, as I didn’t have to explain my appearance, and no time was taken away from providing the much-needed treatment to my patient. On the contrary, my apparel raised the spirits of everyone at the scene. It was so effective—even at a trauma scene as scary as a serious car accident—that I am thinking about adopting it permanently.

I wish all of the injured a speedy recovery and a happy and healthy holiday!

Yishai David Turgeman is a volunteer responder with United Hatzalah in Tel Aviv, Israel. 

United Hatzalah
Bay Medical Sacred Heart received the Mission: Lifeline Silver Plus Receiving Quality Achievement Award for its quality and timely treatment of heart attacks and strokes.
On 62 occasions last year, police requested often unnecessary sedations, resulting in some patients experiencing respiratory or heart failures.
Drones that deliver AEDs to cardiac arrest victims are being tested in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Your brain and senses are all you need to get started.
To combat the opioid epidemic, doctors can now select "non-opiate" as a treatment option for patients on their electronic care plan system.
Due to a lack of medical aid and inadequate relief efforts in the storm's aftermath, an estimated 4,645 people died—not 64.
In celebration of National EMS Week last month, National EMS gave back to the agencies dedicated to serving their communities.
An arbitration system will help settle out-of-network bills for patients, but some fear it will encourage providers to stay out-of-network to receive higher reimbursements.
The clinic is raising the bar for safe IV ketamine infusion therapy for patients suffering from chronic pain, depression, suicidality, and other mood disorders.
Loose particulate matter found on the plunger can potentially cause internal allergic reactions and local irritation.
Angie Knannlein-Rahman, a high school track coach and nurse, ran to shotput thrower Adam Riedinger's aid when he collapsed during a championship meet.
While immediate CPR helps improve SCA survivors' brain functions, more research is needed to know how to best treat those who suffer from brain damage.
Ray Kemp's production "Not My Addiction" recounts recovering drug addicts' battles with addiction to help first responders better understand these struggling patients.
A grant-funded pilot program will allow EMS providers to give Narcan to overdose patients who refuse transport to the hospital.
Researchers say stigma and cost are some reasons why only one in four pharmacies in the state have dispensed the drug.