On a recent Monday afternoon, just before 2 p.m. in Tel Aviv, a 16-year-old girl on her way home from school was struck by a car while crossing a street. The girl sustained serious injuries and was bleeding profusely. Her distraught friends immediately called for help.
As a volunteer first-response EMT with United Hatzalah, I’m always on call to respond to such emergencies. Whether I’m at work, doing errands, or at home, I’ve signed up to drop everything when emergencies occur and rush out to save lives. In this instance I was at work when I received the urgent call from our dispatch and command center.
I instantly dropped my project and left my computer. I grabbed my helmet and raced to the scene on my ambucycle. It took me a bit less than three minutes to get to the location. I was the first responder on site, something that is not entirely new to me. I found the injured girl still lying in the road and began to quickly triage her injuries while asking dispatch for backup and an ambulance. I placed a bandage on her head and applied pressure to stop the bleeding.
After a few moments additional United Hatzalah ambucycle medics arrived and assisted in the treatment. We worked together as a team and stanched the bleeding from the wound, applied trauma bandages, affixed a neck brace, and took a full set of vital signs as well as a field neurological assessment.
The ambulance arrived sometime later, and together with the other gathered volunteers and crew, I secured the young woman to a backboard, and we placed her in the ambulance for rapid transport to the nearest trauma center.
Being a volunteer EMT is always interesting and never easy. It means you wake up every morning and don’t know whom you’ll meet or help over the course of the day. I usually go to 4–6 calls per day. Sometimes they blur into one another, but at the end of the day, I go to sleep knowing I helped a few people, and that gives me a lot of motivation and satisfaction.
I recently moved to Tel Aviv, where emergency calls happen frequently all over the city, and due to the high traffic density, ambulances can take a long time to arrive. After eight years of volunteering as an EMT first responder, I am fairly familiar with injuries and accidents. But every patient has their own needs and deserves the highest level of care I can give. It is gratifying to know I am not alone but rather part of a wide network of volunteers. Even when I arrive first at an emergency, I know there will likely be two or three additional volunteers who will join me in a few minutes. Being part of an organization that helps so many others for free is a special blessing not all are able to receive. I count myself one of the lucky ones.