An EMT First Responder Talks About His Everyday Heroes

(Caption: Miriam Ballin and members of the psychotrauma unit console an agitated patient at the scene of an emergency: Illustration – Credit United Hatzalah)

An EMT First Responder Talks About His Everyday Heroes

Jerusalem, January 25th, 2017 – The sound of screeching brakes pierced the tranquil peace of the otherwise quiet Jerusalem street. Residents peeked their heads out of their windows to see what caused the disturbance. Chani, an eight-year-old girl, was crossing the street when a car hit her and threw her to the rough asphalt.


For a few moments, Chani lay motionless on the road, stunned. The frightened driver climbed out of his car trembling as he called for an ambulance. My United Hatzalah radio came to life << girl struck by vehicle >> I heard the dispatcher say.


About 400 meters stood between myself and Chani. Chani- injured and in pain, and I – on my ambucycle weaving through traffic racing to help her.


I arrived on scene. Chani was agitated. She is only eight-years-old and now all of this commotion and strangers crowd around her, I thought to myself. All she wants is to be comforted by her parents. She wants her mom and dad.  But mom and dad aren’t here. I am here, and I will help her. She is so frightened, I think.


“Hello Chani, my name is Dvir. Can you tell me where it hurts?” I gently ask.

“It doesn’t hurt. I want to go home.” She shyly replied.

“What’s your mother’s number? Perhaps we’ll call her?”

“No. I’m scared. Please don’t tell her.”


Now the ambulance crew arrived as well and joined in the commotion surrounding Chani. Chani is still agitated. It’s not every day a car strikes her and throws her onto the pavement. Her leg starts to hurt a little, but this is not what is really bothering her at the moment.


Chani’s mother appears. Chani bursts into tears as she tells her mother what happened.  She still won’t calm down. The bandages and medications won’t help her now. She just wants to forget it all. She wants it to end.


It is now that the hero of the story enters the scene in a sprint without bandages and without needles. Her orange vest has the words “Psychotrauma Unit” printed in bold. She kneels down before frightened Chani, smiles and pats her gently as if they are old friends.


The hero’s vest pockets unload and from them she offers candies to Chani and her brother.  She says, “You deserve candies, you are good kids.” She continues to converse with Chani, calming her and cheering her up, while us medics stand aside, allowing the healing of the hearts to begin.


Chani is no longer agitated. She is smiling.  It’s unclear if she remembers that just a few minutes ago she experienced a traumatic event. I am left with nothing to do but watch from the sidelines, filled with pride and awe that there are amazing people like her who help others anytime anywhere.


Who is this hero, you may ask? It is no coincidence that she is the director of the psychotrauma unit at United Hatzalah. Her name is Miriam Ballin.


While I and my fellow EMTs treat people’s physical injuries and provide medical intervention to save lives, Miriam and the psychotrauma unit that she runs treat the injuries to the psyche and intervene to help wash away the fear and anguish of traumatic situations.


You can see them at terror attacks, unexpected tragedies, car accidents and any other incident where the overwhelming trauma threatens to engulf a person’s ability to function. They can only be described as everyday heroes.

– Dvir Adani, EMT with Israel’s national volunteer EMS organization United Hatzalah


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