I was privileged to save a life in the air

Rescue org president sleeps on Israel flight, suddenly hears shouts, sees passenger suffering severe cramps, cold sweat, rapid pulse.

Eli Beer - Ichud Hatzala Pres. ,

Eli Beer
Eli Beer
Photo by Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90

This morning on an El Al flight from Newark to Israel while I slept, I heard shouts coming from a few rows in front of me. I jumped out of the seat and ran toward the screams. I saw a man of about 65 with severe cramps, in a cold sweat, with a very rapid pulse, pallor, and having difficulty talking.

I tried to communicate with him without success. I asked the staff to bring me a medic's bag with equipment. But after a brief examination and seeing clear signs, even before I received the equipment I estimated that the person suffered from hypoglycemia (shock resulting from a fall in blood sugar) and that he could quickly deteriorate into a state of unconsciousness and even death.

I asked for a sugar meter from the crew but found out that there was none in the medic's bag. I gave the man honey and jam while he was suffering from cramps and asked they announce on the loudspeaker that there was an urgent need for a sugar meter and glucose. One of the passengers ran to me with a device, and after checking it turned out that the person had a blood sugar level of 40 - and that was a few minutes after administering him sugar by mouth. I started administering glucose therapy and after about half-an-hour he started to calm down.

I took charge and told the flight manager there was no need for an emergency landing. I stayed with him for two-and-a-half hours to continue treatment because his condition wasn't completely stable. Only after his condition stabilized, he reached a blood sugar level of 120 and returned to normal functioning I returned to my seat. The EL AL team, and especially the flight manager, were amazing, as well as a psychiatrist and neurologist from Ichilov who helped in the beginning.

No doubt, I feel, I saved a person. I found out that he was on his way from Detroit to his grandson's bar mitzvah. I'm proud to be a volunteer in the air and on land, and after more than two hours of giving treatment and without sleep I got off the flight with an amazing feeling, proud of all the members of Ichud Hatzalah who perform this kind of act every day.

Recommendation to El Al management: Make sure to supply your bags with quality equipment, including oxygen and oxygen testing equipment, etc., as is found in the equipment kits of 4,000 volunteers from Ichud Hatzala.

Translated by Mordechai Sones