Shmuel Harel is a United Hatzalah ambucycle volunteer who lives in a small Kibbutz by the name of Kisufim in the Negev. He is a graduate student and organizational consultant for the Kibbutz, which borders the Gaza Strip. While Harel is an extremely busy young man, he makes the time to be an exceptionally dedicated volunteer EMT. No matter what he is doing, if an emergency call comes in, Harel answers it and heads out regularly to treat people who are in need of emergency medical services. In his area, ambulance response times are slow and first responders can make the difference between life and death. That is why United Hatzalah opened up a special unit of EMS responders known as Team Daniel, of which Harel is a member.
On a recent morning, Shmuel was out for breakfast at a café with his girlfriend when his radio alerted him to a nearby car accident. The call came in from dispatch alerting Harel to a child injured in the accident. Harel called out an apology as he literally ran from the table and raced outside. He jumped on his ambucycle and arrived at the scene in three minutes.
The injured patient was a seven-year-old boy who was on his way to school. The boy had been waiting at a bus stop when he was struck by a passing vehicle. The woman who had been driving the car was sobbing and screaming for someone to help the child. The boy had suffered a head injury and was bleeding profusely. Harel found him lying on the pavement near the vehicle that had struck him.
Harel got to work quickly, bandaged the victim, put a brace on his neck, checked for internal injuries and prepared him for immediate transport to the hospital. The family was called and the child’s mother arrived at the scene. When the intensive care ambulance arrived 7 minutes later, Harel assisted the EMS team in transporting the boy to the trauma center along with his mother.
The boy’s mother expressed her profound gratitude to Harel for arriving so quickly and for providing such caring and effective treatment. Harel’s girlfriend had texted him a message of support but said that she had to leave the café and head to work. Harel hopped back on his ambucycle and headed for his class at University.
Like so many other volunteers, Harel is very committed to saving lives. Even when personal matters often take a back seat, the people around him understand that his dedication saves lives. “Living where I live, you can’t take chances,” said Harel. “You simply have to go and help. With the long waits for ambulances, first responders really do make a difference. It’s palpable and we save lives all the time,” he added.
Eli Beer, President and Founder of United Hatzalah spoke about the incident and said, “Volunteer responders in the periphery are true heroes. In these areas where ambulance response times are higher than in other parts of the country, it is first responders like Shmuel who make the difference between life and death. Instead of having to wait between 15 and 40 minutes for an ambulance, due to our dedicated volunteers in the periphery like Shmuel, patients and their loved ones need only wait a few minutes before help arrives. When an emergency occurs, those minutes waiting for an ambulance can feel like an eternity. Thanks to these volunteers, they don’t need to.”
(Photo: (above) Shmuel Harel with his ambucycle and in riding gear, (Below) Shmuel Harel. – Credit: United Hatzalah)