hatzolah darom

The warm response which encourages us during the difficult moments

You know, we are all volunteers, and that means that we receive no payment for the service we provide, and we don’t have any money or reward beyond our feelings of satisfaction. But “volunteering” also means that we don’t have a boss watching over us, and we decide if and when we want to respond to a call. Since we all volunteered in Hatzalah Darom because we wanted to, and not because we were forced to, it means every call is immediately answered, no matter where we were and what we were doing – whether it is the middle of the night or the middle of the day, and even if we have a temperature of 102, no one is lazy, because we know that sometimes a moment without hesitation means someone’s life. But at the same time we can decide our limits, and I decided that I don’t answer calls on Shabbos. I don’t get in my car and I don’t get into halachic questions, even though all the questions have a halachic answer and we learn them with the Hatzalah rav. But I didn’t want to even start with it. And I also admit that it’s important to me to sit calmly at the table with my wife and children, to listen to them without distractions and without sitting on edge because maybe in a minute someone will call... But somehow something won’t let me turn off my device on Shabbos, and so it is on “low” and left on a shelf in the living room. We can barely hear it but are aware of its presence, and when there is something serious we know because we can hear the urgency and commotion in how things are said, and in the background, even if we can’t hear the exact words. If it’s important to us to know – we simply go near to it and put our ear to the device and listen. And thus, for many years I have been volunteering during the week around the clock and around the country, but on Shabbos – from candlelighting until Havdalah I don’t have the device on me, and I don’t even bring my bag of equipment up to the house from the car. I lock it in there and that’s it. One Shabbos there was somehow a moment of silence at the meal between the zemiros and the divrei Torah, the children’s requests, and the stories from their parshah sheets, and chewing, and “pass the salt, please”... There was a moment’s silence and suddenly I heard an address on the device. It was the next building. Of course, everyone immediately stopped eating. The next building means it’s someone we know. I wondered who it was and what had happened, we listened and heard that it was a case of scalding from boiling water. In principal, I didn’t need to get up from my seat. There is an excellent paramedic in that building and he can get there faster than I can, and maybe do things better than I can. But then I remembered that he is a paramedic, but he doesn’t have our amazing equipment! I have Burnshield burn dressings which I got from Hatzalah Darom, but he doesn’t! And in the case of burns, these dressings at the right time can sometimes mean the difference between months in the hospital, surgeries, skin grafts, and unbearable pain, and a few days of treatment with much less suffering. And so I found myself flying to the drawer in the entrance hall, grabbing the car keys, and running downstairs. I can tell you that with siyata d’Shmaya and in the merit of the special equipment given out by Hatzalah Darom and which is not given out by any other organization, I had the merit of being the messenger to save this woman from indescribable pain. And I want to tell the Hatzalah Darom management: It’s true there are other volunteer organizations and all of them are willing to help, but you should know – the equipment which you give out so generously literally translates into much more saving lives!

I will never forget this day in my life. It was a Friday and the exact date of  our wedding anniversary. We decided to celebrate for a little while. We finished the Shabbat preparations early and sat down for a cup of coffee with a yummy cake that we bought specifically for the occasion. It was cozy, the house was ready for Shabbos, and  the pots were filled with food, and we enjoyed our time.

Then a call came in. A serious accident.  One look at my wife made it clear to me that she knows how to prioritize. True, our quality hour was interrupted but there is a clear precedence for human life here. A minute later I skipped stairs two by two with the gear bag and immediately hopped onto the motorcycle.

It was indeed a serious accident.  We rescued a person from a car in a very difficult situation without a pulse and not breathing…. Those who know understand what this is about … We could not even know what he looked like ten minutes before the accident …There was not much we could do. We verified his death.

I stayed there to help the family members who were traveling in another vehicle after him and had stopped of course when they saw the accident. I did not know them but we were around in case they needed first aid on the spot. Then we started to clarify details, like who was the victim.  When I heard the name, I suddenly collapsed. 

Apparently, I had just taken care of the body of my closest friend who  was with me in Yeshiva Ketana and Yeshiva Gedolah. We slept in the same room for six years!  We got up together and went to bed together, ate at the same table and heard the same classes. He was the first one to know about my engagement  and I was the first to know that he was going on a date.

Then we both got married, moved to other corners of the country. We met at friends’ weddings, and eventually, the meetings became rare and eventually stopped. Initially there were telephone calls and then each one became established in his life and they also stopped. And now …

I don’t know how I got home. I was so overwhelmed and sad! Throughout that Shabbat I could not get up to dinner.  The memories flooded me and I drowned in sadness. I could barely make kiddush. On Sunday, the Hatzolah Darom Office phoned to ask if the equipment should be refilled after the event. My wife answered. I couldn’t.  She told them I was in bed. I didn’t go to work. I didn’t function because of that accident. Already that day, Hatzolah Darom referred me to a trauma specialist. Needless to say, they also paid for the treatment.

It was a shocking experience, but in time I learned to handle it.  I was given more tools to use in the difficult situations that I encounter, as I continue the challenges of working for Hatzalah Darom.

Then a call came in. A serious accident.  One look at my wife made it clear to me that she knows how to prioritize. True, our quality hour was interrupted but there is a clear precedence for human life here. A minute later I skipped stairs two by two with the gear bag and immediately hopped onto the motorcycle.

It was indeed a serious accident.  We rescued a person from a car in a very difficult situation without a pulse and not breathing…. Those who know understand what this is about … We could not even know what he looked like ten minutes before the accident …There was not much we could do. We verified his death.

I stayed there to help the family members who were traveling in another vehicle after him and had stopped of course when they saw the accident. I did not know them but we were around in case they needed first aid on the spot. Then we started to clarify details, like who was the victim.  When I heard the name, I suddenly collapsed. 

Apparently, I had just taken care of the body of my closest friend who  was with me in Yeshiva Ketana and Yeshiva Gedolah. We slept in the same room for six years!  We got up together and went to bed together, ate at the same table and heard the same classes. He was the first one to know about my engagement  and I was the first to know that he was going on a date.

Then we both got married, moved to other corners of the country. We met at friends’ weddings, and eventually, the meetings became rare and eventually stopped. Initially there were telephone calls and then each one became established in his life and they also stopped. And now …

I don’t know how I got home. I was so overwhelmed and sad! Throughout that Shabbat I could not get up to dinner.  The memories flooded me and I drowned in sadness. I could barely make kiddush. On Sunday, the Hatzolah Darom Office phoned to ask if the equipment should be refilled after the event. My wife answered. I couldn’t.  She told them I was in bed. I didn’t go to work. I didn’t function because of that accident. Already that day, Hatzolah Darom referred me to a trauma specialist. Needless to say, they also paid for the treatment.

It was a shocking experience, but in time I learned to handle it.  I was given more tools to use in the difficult situations that I encounter, as I continue the challenges of working for Hatzalah Darom.

Then a call came in. A serious accident.

One look at my wife made it clear to me that she knows how to prioritize. True, our quality hour has been destroyed but there is a clear precedence for human life here. A minute later I skipped stairs two by two with the gear bag and immediately onto the motorcycle.

It was indeed a serious accident. Very difficult. We rescued a person from a car in a very difficult situation without a pulse and without breathing, with a loss of a human photographer … Those who know understand what this is about … We could not even know what he looked like ten minutes before the accident …

There was not much we could do, we determined his death.

I stayed there to help the family members who were traveling in another vehicle after him and stopped of course when they saw the accident. I did not know them but we were around in case they needed first aid on the spot. Then we started to clarify details, like who was the killer and instead of helping I became needy.

I collapsed.

Apparently, I had just taken care of the body of my closest friend,  that was with me in Yeshiva Ketana and Yeshiva Gedolah. We slept in the same room for six years! We got up together and went to bed together, ate at the same table and heard the same classes. He was the first one to know about my engagement  and I was the first to know that he was going on a date….

Then we both got married, moved to other corners of the country. We met at friends’ weddings, then the friends got along too, the meetings became rare and eventually stopped. Initially there were telephones and then each one became established in his life and they also stopped. And now …

I don’t know how I got home. I was so overwhelmed and sad! Throughout that Shabbos I could not get up to dinner, the memories flooded me and I drowned in sadness. I could barely make kiddush. On Sunday, the Hatzolah Darom Office phoned to ask if the equipment should be refilled after the event. My wife answered, I couldn’t, and she told them I was in bed, I didn’t go to work, I didn’t function because of that accident. Already that day, Hatzolah Darom referred me  to a trauma specialist. Needless to say, they also paid for the treatment.

It was a shocking experience, but I learned to handle it, and I was given more tools to use in the difficult situations that I continue to encounter, since of course I continue to volunteer at the wonderful Hatzolah Darom organization and go out to calls, none of which are joyous events but a case in need of help.

 

I am alone.

Two small children about age 3 and 4.5 were severely injured and unconscious.

What do I do first? There are no other volunteers by my side. Alone. Alone.

 

Not even for one second did I allow myself to lose sight of this and while starting the life-saving operations, I called MDA and asked for two NATs, specifying the exact location. 

Arterial obstruction, Stopping bleeding and CPR attempts and I am still alone. My hands continue their work while in the midst I make a call again to MDA. I was told they sent out one car to my direction from Kfar Saba (10 min), and another from Tel Aviv (15 min). I let them know I was going ahead to Ichilov and we will connect on the way. The situation is difficult and every second is critical.

I’m driving on Ayalon through from interchange to another and no one seems to be on the horizon. I’m sitting on an open line to the focal point and they keep telling me the whole time, “The NAT is on the way to you, he’s already close.”

When I get to The Shalom Interchange, I requested that they should be waiting at Ichilov with a shock room and staff outside because I was alone with two children in serious condition. I waited there and they hurried the children in for treatment. One unfortunately did not survive the injury his death was determined in the shock room, after about twenty minutes. The other was saved  because of the treatment that I merited to give him on the spot.

I finished a day of work and was heading home from Natanya. When I reached the Galilee Junction, I saw an accident and people started signaling me to come quickly. I tried to listen in to our system and to Magen David Adom, but there was no report. I hadn’t even had the chance to stop the ambulance yet when civilians started opening my back doors, frantically putting in two wounded  children on the ambulance bed. Those two small children, about age 3 and 4.5,were severely injured and unconscious.

For a split second I debated – what do I do first? There were no other volunteers by my side. I was all alone.

I couldn’t allow myself to lose sight of this and while starting the life-saving operations, I called MDA and asked for two EMTs, specifying the exact location. 

My Immediate measures were focused on  arterial obstruction, stopping the bleeding and CPR attempts.  Still alone, my hands continue their work while in the midst I make a call again to MDA. I was told they sent out one car to my direction from Kfar Saba (10 min), and another from Tel Aviv (15 min). I let them know I was going ahead to Ichilov Hospital and we would connect on the way. The situation was urgent and every second was critical.

I drove on the Ayalon highway  from one interchange to another and no one seemed to be on the horizon.  I kept hearing someone say, the EMT is on the way to you. He’s already close. 

When I got to The Shalom Interchange, I requested that they should be waiting at the hospital with a trauma unit and staff outside because I was alone with two children in serious condition. I arrived there and they hurried the children in for treatment. One unfortunately did not survive. His death was determined in the trauma unit, after about twenty minutes. The other was saved  because of the treatment that I merited to give him on the spot.

That was such a tragic situation. I was totally alone with two injured children. Within one second it was up to me to make decisions that would  influence for life or God Forbid… 

Later that day,  our medical evaluations and discussions after the incident stated that the Baruch Hashem I acted calmly and cautiously, focusing on the goal.    One child was saved, but the other child unfortunately did not survive. This intense event was 17 minutes on the clock, but the memory will be etched in my mind  forever. 

I am volunteering 22 years, thank God, and I’m a very active volunteer. A year ago I told someone who took interest in me that I think I had already experienced all the hard sights in all possible situations, and I don’t think there’s anything more shocking than what I have been exposed to till now. I experienced terrorit attacks, rocket hits, road and work accidents, accidents at home, EVERYTHING. 

I got my biggest shock.

I got to the volunteer station and the dispatcher tells me to take an ambulance and just go. A child was unconsious.

In times of emergencies, there is always a conflict between responsibilities at home and volunteering. In the last war, I volunteered 24 hours a day for any trouble you won’t come. The treatments in the residential areas where missiles are falling are different than any other area. With the kindness of God, who spares us from many accidents, most of the cases we treated was primarily trauma victims. Even if injuries are minor, there are others who need assistance due to shock. It takes a lot of creativity to talk to the injured person at eye level, to explain to him what’s going on and why he should be open to turning for help.

 

But what I came to tell you was about a miracle that I witnessed at an accident in Rova 3, in Ashdod.

 

It was Friday. A pre Shabbat afternoon Mincha was barely finished five minutes ago, and everyone was rushing for final arrangements before Shabbat. Suddenly, a loud noise shook the room the last of the people from the minyan of over 50 men, saw a cover of a huge missile fall in the center of the shul. This was part of a missile that had fallen, was from one that fell and shook the whole neighborhood. Some minor injuries were reported in the area, and there couldv’e been many more if they all hadn’t left the shul 5 minutes earlier!  Behold the enormous miracle that has been here before our eyes. The missile fell, it wasa direct hit, there were a number of injured persons, but this miracle was the way of the Almighty with grace and mercy.

 

 

A bit of activity

Collects photos from life-saving activities of Southern Rescue volunteers in various arenas