Israel Seen Exclusive – Volunteer EMT Saves a Life at a Shiva House, (House of Mourning)
Last week Sunday, two brothers were comforting mourners at a shiva house in Rosh Ha’ayin when one of the brothers, a 68-year-old man, was stung by an insect and developed a severe allergic reaction. He began to lose consciousness as mourners and well-wishers screamed in fright, unable to process another tragedy taking place right in front of them. The other brother was aware of the potentially fatal allergies and called for help right away.
Mordechai Levy was at home unpacking from a family summer vacation when he heard the familiar crackle of his United Hatzalah radio alerting him to a nearby medical emergency. The dedicated volunteer immediately dashed outside to his ambucycle and raced through traffic to the address, arriving in 60 seconds!
Levy grabbed the medic kit from his ambucycle and ran inside where he found the victim lying semi-conscious on the ground, barely breathing. The experienced medic immediately administered high flow oxygen and started an IV as the brother prayed and the mourners watched in shock. Levy kept the man alive and administered oxygen for 15 tense minutes until the ambulance arrived. The United Hatzalah volunteer helped transfer the critically ill patient out of the shiva house and into the ambulance. Seeing that the ambulance crew was short-staffed, Levy hopped inside and continued treating the victim as the ambulance zoomed off with great urgency towards the hospital. A mobile intensive care ambulance met them en route, and Levy again assisted in transferring the victim into the intensive care ambulance, where a senior paramedic administered advanced medications through the IV that Levy had prepared. Levy continued to provide treatment and oxygenate the victim for nearly an hour until finally the victim regained consciousness and opened his eyes! Everyone breathed a sigh of relief, and the victim looked around him, just glad to be alive.
“When I arrived, the patient was in very bad shape. If I had not shown up in those first few minutes he would not have survived. I believe that every person is a messenger of God and sent here to help others. This was my mission today. It is a very different feeling to one’s day. I’ve been volunteering four and a half years now and I’ve learned one thing. The world is built on acts of loving kindness and that without them none of us would survive,” Levy said.
The United Hatzalah medic got a ride back to his ambucycle, which was parked at the shiva house, where he updated the brother and mourners that the man had survived. Everyone was relieved at hearing the news; the memories of their loved one could be remembered in tranquility instead of tainted by yet another tragedy.
Special Houston Update
Jerusalem, September 3rd, 2017 – On Friday, United Hatzalah and Israel Rescue Coalition’s (IRC) Houston relief team headed to Beaumont at the request of the Mayor of Houston, Mayor Sylvester Turner. After distributing aid to evacuated residents of the area, the team set up a booth at the Jack Brooks Regional Airport which is located between Beaumont and Port Arthur, two of the hardest hit areas by Hurricane Harvey. Evacuees were being brought on buses to the airport for care and to receive supplies before they were sent by plane to a mega center for local evacuees. As one local reporter from channel 12 News Now put it, the volunteers were on hand to make sure that “evacuees received food shelter and friendship” before being sent to the long term evacuation center in Dallas.
United Hatzalah and the IRC team consists of Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit members who focus on providing psychological and emotional stabilization and care following traumatic incidents. Team member Avi Tennenbaum who is a Psychotherapist and addictions expert spoke about the team’s experience over the weekend providing that type of care as well as aid to Harvey evacuees. “We had an unforgettable day here in the Airport. We treated many people who had just been evacuated and were en route to their next long term location as well as many first responders, members of the national guard and EMS crews.”
Tennenbaum has a BA in Psychotherapy and is a registered EMT with United Hatzalah as well as being one of the more senior volunteers with the organization’s Psychotrauma and Crisis Response unit. He is a board-certified addiction professional and directs JNARS, a nonprofit organization for advancing the professional treatment of addiction disorders.
“For us as volunteers, this was an unforgettable weekend. We arrived in Port Arthur and met dozens of broken-hearted people who were evacuated with nothing but the shirts on their backs. We were able to bring some light into their dark experience and help them move forward to the next leg of their journey. We also offered critical emotional support to exhausted EMS personnel who were working around the clock to rescue those surrounded by floodwaters. The military, national guard, EMS crews, and good samaritans who were volunteering to help their fellow Texans were extremely grateful for our presence. We kept receiving hugs, blessings, and photo requests. But the most incredible thing for us was the stories that people shared with us,” Tennenbaum said.
“Part of the job here is to listen. We heard some incredible stories from people and we allowed them to cry and share their stories of how they evacuated babies on floating air mattresses and saw human organs floating in the floodwaters. Other stories included people being starved for three days with no water or food, or facing dangerous snakes that entered homes via the flood waters. People kept telling us how they simply woke up to water surrounding their bed in the morning. The stories were simply endless and our job is to listen and provide psycholgocial and emotional support and that is what we did,” Tennenbaum explained.
Among the volunteers who were assisting in the evacuations, were pilots and EMS teams, many of whom had been working for days without end. “We need to listen to their stories and the stories of other volunteers and first response personnel just as much. They also need to talk and offload the stress of their experiences. Over the course of the weekend we were able to treat several pilots and EMS crews all of whom thanked us tremendously,” Tennenbaum said. “One flight paramedic was so enamored by us that he clung tightly to Dr. Sharon Slater and our team leader Miriam Ballin.”
“Shabbat was a bit of challenge for us as we were not able to leave the area to get back to Houston due to the still high waters on the roads. So we stayed in the airport and continued helping people,” said Ballin. “One flight paramedic eagerly invited herself to our Shabbat meal and shared with us some incredible stories as she too was spending the day at the airport.”
“It was an unbelievable few days and we merited to do great things here. We hope to continue our efforts for a long time yet, ” Tennenbaum concluded.
(Photos: Top – Members of the IRC and United Hatzalah make Shabbat in the Jack Brooks Regional Airport amid helping evacuees.
2nd photo – Josh Cerf member of the IRC and United Hatzalah team brings truckload of supplies to people of Beaumont Texas
3rd photo – IRD and United Hatzalah team director Miriam Ballin prepping to give out aid to evacuees in transit and Jack Brooks Regional Airport.
4th photo – The IRC and United Hatzalah team help evacuees by providing them, with water, food stuff, and someone to talk to.
5th photo – IRC and United Hatzalah team leader Miriam Ballin (EMT-B) treats military first responder at Jack Brooks Regional Airport.
6th photo – IRC and United Hatzalah team member Dr.Sharon Slater smiling with a child of an evacuee in transit at Jack Brooks Regional airport.
Photo credit: Israel Rescue Coalition and United Hatzalah)