Stories from the Streets: From Rescuer to Victim
My name is Avi Amar, and I live in Ashdod. I’ve worked in the emergency services my entire adult life. From the time I finished my military service, I have worked with the police to make sure the streets of my hometown of Ashdod and the surrounding area are safe. In addition I am also a volunteer first-response EMT with United Hatzalah.
As I drove home one day in mid-July, United Hatzalah’s national dispatch and command center notified me of a two-car collision on Highway 4 just outside of Rishon LeZion, Israel’s fourth-largest city. I was nearby and flipped on the lights and sirens on my ambucycle and rushed to the scene. I arrived in less than three minutes, and by the time I got there, another ambucycle driver from the organization had already arrived. I saw one of the cars was on its roof and that between the two vehicles, six people were injured. Each one had suffered a different injury, most moderate to light. The second driver miraculously escaped injury completely.
A number of people were trapped inside the upside-down car, so the fire department was called. While we waited for them to arrive, I assessed the status of the patients inside the vehicle and began treating what I could without touching the car or causing it to tilt. The other volunteer treated patients outside the vehicles. The fire department arrived, and we began devising a plan to extricate the trapped patients.
As one of the firefighters took a preliminary look at the two vehicles, an oncoming car whose driver didn’t see the firefighter on the highway struck him, giving him a serious head injury. I recall the sudden screech of brakes and an awful shriek as the car tried in vain to slow down before hitting my fellow rescuer. While the braking likely saved the man’s life, it didn’t prevent him from getting hit. I rapidly switched focus and began treating the injured firefighter, whose injuries were far more pressing than those of the people trapped in the car. Police, EMS, and firefighters worked in tandem, making every effort to ensure the scene was safe as they treated the firefighter. Police stopped all traffic and blocked the roadway. They kept the scene sterile until all seven people had been treated, stabilized, and evacuated by ambulance.
It was a bit traumatic for everyone at the scene. We all knew it could have been any of us who were hit that night. The driver was coming at high speed and looking to avoid the accident without thinking about those assisting at the incident. A fellow firefighter began to hyperventilate after seeing what happened to his friend—I treated him as well. The whole incident left its mark on me and the other responders. I am happy to have been there and able to provide both firefighters and the original six patients with the treatments I knew how to administer. That is what I and other EMS responders are trained to do.
Thankfully everyone is expected to recover. Some will have long roads of rehabilitation, but no lives were lost that day, and that is thanks to the professionalism of all the first responders who worked together as a team that night.
Avi Amar is a police officer and volunteer EMT with United Hatzalah in Ashdod, Israel.