Last Tuesday evening I was studying Torah in a class at our local synagogue in Jerusalem. I had completed a long shift that morning in United Hatzalah’s dispatch and command center and was now enjoying the class being given. This class is part of my weekly routine and downtime from my busy work as a shift manager at the dispatch center. I am a dispatcher and also a volunteer ambucycle driver and EMT-B first responder. While I am always on call, I was not expecting an emergency to happen during the class. When it did, it was very near our location.
A few other first responders from my community are in the class with me, and our radios and emergency apps all went off at the same time. We grabbed our gear and raced out, I to my ambucycle, them to their cars. I flipped on my sirens and rushed to the scene of the emergency. A serious motor vehicle accident had just taken place, and I was one of the first responders on scene. A man delivering pizzas had been driving on his scooter along Wolfson Boulevard in Jerusalem when he collided with another vehicle and was pulled underneath it. The car stopped, but not before the delivery man had been seriously injured. I saw a lot of blood underneath the car. Panicked witnesses had dialed United Hatzalah’s emergency hotline and asked for help.
We found the 20-year-old man was suffering from multisystem trauma, lying with his scooter trapped underneath the car. An ambulance crew arrived, and we worked together to help save him. With firefighters still on their way, there was no time for a plan B: We organized all available hands to lift the vehicle high enough that we could slip a backboard under the injured man and slide him out from underneath the car. We carefully lifted the car and extricated the man while immobilizing him.
At that point we saw he was bleeding from a serious head wound and had sustained multiple fractures in the collision. I began to stem the bleeding and bandage his head while other responders stanched bleeding from other injuries, immobilized limbs, and prepared him for transport. After just a few moments, we successfully loaded him into the ambulance, and he was whisked off to Shaare Zedek Medical Center for definitive care.
When the Talmud tells us that saving a life means saving an entire world, it means the future positive ramifications of the act of loving kindness are unending. I, like my fellow EMS volunteers here in Israel, don’t do things like this on our downtime for glory; rather, we do it to save the lives of the people around us, no matter who they are or where they are from. If someone is in need of our assistance, I, together with my fellow responders from United Hatzalah, will give our all to help them.
Avi Press is a volunteer first responder and dispatch shift manager for United Hatzalah in Jerusalem.