On Friday night at around 9:00 p.m, a 64-year-old man lost consciousness in a synagogue in the Ezrat Torah neighborhood of Jerusalem during the evening prayer service.
A congregant who was a witness to the collapse ran over to the Nedarim Plus emergency alert system hanging on the wall and tapped the help button, which alerted United Hatzalah’s Dispatch and Command Center to the emergency.
United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Yisrael Horovitz had just finished Friday evening prayers and was walking out of a different synagogue when his communication device rang, notifying him of the emergency.
Yisrael arrived in just a few minutes. He pushed himself through the crowd inside the shul to where the 64-year-old man was lying unconscious and without a pulse on the floor. Someone was performing CPR.
“I asked the person performing chest compressions to continue so I could connect the defibrillator from my medical kit, while not delaying the CPR. I showed him how to perform the compressions more effectively and he was a great help,” Yisrael said.
Just after Yisrael connected the defibrillator, the first electric shock out of the three executed in total throughout the resuscitation was administered.
A few minutes later, other EMTs arrived. Yisrael, being the first responder at the scene, instructed the others as to what was needed. They connected an oxygen respiratory mask and began assisted ventilation. When the paramedics and physician Shlomo Gensler, who is also a United Hatzalah volunteer, arrived, they joined the resuscitative efforts providing advanced medical care and medication as well as intubating the patient.
Dr. Gensler said, “When I arrived the patient was still in a state of ventricular fibrillation where his heart was not pumping and there was not enough oxygen in his blood. We administered medications, and after a few minutes, the patient’s pulse returned. He eventually regained full consciousness and started to talk and even tried to get up from where he was lying down. I wanted to make sure that he sustained proper breathing before removing the airway from his throat or allowing him to get up and walk around.”
When it was time to transport the patient to the hospital, the paramedics requested additional help from Dr. Gensler in the ambulance.
“I ended up going with them during the ambulance transport,” Dr. Gensler said. “The patient wasn’t stable enough and required continuous care. When, mid-transport, we realized that the patient did not have enough oxygen flow to his brain, I sedated him right away and intubated him. It definitely helped that I was there because anesthesiology is one of the things I specialize in and something I do every day. He was brought to the trauma center in relatively stable condition even though he was sedated.”
He continued, “This is a story that validates the quick response time which is crucial for saving a life. Everything happened quickly and smoothly, from the arrival of the volunteers to the speedy treatment. Without it, this man would not have survived. It is amazing what United Hatzalah provides for the citizens of Israel and the lives that their system saves each day.”
After the incident, Yisrael said, “I have been a part of many successful resuscitations, but this was the first time that I was at one where the patient returned to full consciousness at the scene. He was trying to get up with force and speak. It was amazing.”
“It excites me to see a man who suffered a sudden cardiac arrest while praying and is revived due to our intervention. I thank G-d that the man survived and that he is with us today. I sincerely hope that he will make a full recovery.”