Near Tragedy Strikes Close to Home for Lifesaving Emergency Response Couple
Miriam Ballin, the founder and Director of the Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit, responded to an unusual emergency call together with her husband Dr. Adam Ballin, on Sunday night. The emergency occurred at the Jerusalem Convention Center late Sunday night in the midst of the Philharmonic Orchestra Production. The dispatch had informed the EMS couple that there was an elderly man lying unconscious on the ground at the center. Upon arriving at the scene with other volunteer responders, that included Rabbi Daniel Katzenstein, the couple began to take charge of the call from the basic life support team who was already there. The Ballins found the man bleeding from a head wound, confused, and barely responsive. After checking the man’s vital signs, Miriam realized that the man was her upstairs neighbor.
Adam and the other gathered responders found that the man had a very low pulse rate of 28 and a problematic heart rhythm. They made the hard decision to sedate the man and attach an external pacemaker. As Miriam let her husband and the other EMTs take over treating the man she knew so well, she began to wonder where the man’s wife was. Miriam knew that the two are rarely separated and often attend cultural events together. Miriam asked the people around if they knew where she was. No one had seen her.
Miriam left the area in search of the man’s wife and found her on the other side of the auditorium. Ironically, the wife had been asking a security guard if he had seen her husband, who had left to go to the bathroom and never came back.
Miriam went up to her neighbor. “I calmly told her that her husband fell down and that our EMS responders are helping him,” said Ballin. “We’re going to have to go to the hospital,” Ballin added. “I literally held her hand. I helped her call her nephew and arrange a support system. That’s one of the things that our Psychotrauma Unit is trained to do.”
Miriam added that the woman needed some extra help and patience due to her age. “It was hard for her to walk as fast as everybody else as she is a woman of advanced years. I got her to the ambulance to be with her husband. I calmed her as much as I could and we sent them on their way.”
Helping set up a support system and calming not only the patients involved but the people affected by the scene as well, is the purpose of our Psychotrauma Unit,” Miriam said.
The story doesn’t end there. Miriam ran into her neighbor five days later in their building. It was the day that the woman’s husband was to be released from the hospital. The woman was ecstatic when she saw Ballin. She said, “You were there. You were there when my husband went to the hospital and you saved his life. I’m going now to pick him up from the hospital and he’s all back to himself.”
“United Hatzalah’s purpose is to help people from the community save the lives of those around them,” said President and Founder of the organization Eli Beer. “Uniting our communities throughout Israel in a common purpose to save lives and treating people, both physically and emotionally goes hand in hand. We work hard to make sure that not only is physical medical help available, but that psychological help and support is in place for anyone who needs it. The Ballins are a great example of our operational ideal and the work they do is simply remarkable.”
After the man returned home he came to thank the couple who had been instrumental in saving his life. “Seeing a patient you sent to the hospital more dead than alive show up at your door to say thank you is an incredibly emotional experience,” said Miriam. “Especially when it was your own neighbor. We were so used to seeing him pass by with a smile, it pained us to see him swaying in and out of consciousness. Today we saw him at our door standing tall and smiling. He said two words. “Thank you!” we all had tears in our eyes.”