United Hatzalah volunteers bring a patient to the hospital
United Hatzalah volunteers bring a patient to the hospital United Hatzalah

On Sunday morning just after 6:00 a.m. a man who was exercising in a gym HaZetitim Street in Givat Shmuel suddenly collapsed in the middle of his workout. A personal trainer from the gym who saw what had happened ran over to the man and checked his vital signs. Finding none, the trainer initiated CPR and asked another staff member to call emergency services for help.

United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Yuda Widawsky had just been woken up by an alarm that he forgot to shut off from last week. “G-d works in mysterious ways,” he recounted after the fact. “I’m usually not up that early but this morning because of the errant alarm I was.” Widawsky heard his emergency alert device sound, saw that the address was his own gym, where he was planning to go later, rushed down to his car, and sped to the nearby address.

Another volunteer EMT with United Hatzalah, Antony David Wilk, was in an elevator with his children heading to the car to take them to school when he received the alert. Upon hearing his communication device buzz, he quickly ushered his children into the car and drove to the gym, where he too exercises regularly. Instructing his children to wait for him in the car and leaving the air conditioning on, Antony ran inside to where the collapsed man was located.

The two EMTs found the trainer performing chest compressions and instructed him to continue. A defibrillator had been attached and was scanning the patient. The EMTs provided the shock. Then switched out the defibrillator to use Yuda’s as it was a more advanced hybrid defibrillator and heart monitor. After a few more rounds of compressions in which the EMTs rotated with the trainer and other EMS personnel who began to arrive, a second shock was delivered from Yuda’s device. Yuda, being an advanced level EMT and a previous instructor of intravenous (IV) line management, opened an IV line to administer fluids and in preparation for a paramedic administering medications.

A few minutes later the mobile intensive care ambulance arrived and the paramedic checked the patient for a pulse. Low and behold, the man had a pulse but was only able to take agonal breaths. The paramedic intubated the patient who was then transported to the nearest hospital for further care.

“The success of the CPR today came down to teamwork,” added Antony. “Had the trainer not begun CPR when he did and had the first responders not all worked in unison, we may not have been successful. Thankfully we were, and when I returned to my car and told my children what had happened, they were ecstatic to know that their patience allowed me to help save a man’s life. As we went off to school I could hear the joyin their voices and I knew that I had made the right decision to bring them along. I hope that along the way they learned a valuable life lesson.”

As Yuda and Antony took their leave, each in their own direction they both thought about the irony of the medical emergency and subsequent response taking place in their gym, but at a time when they were not already at the location. “I ended up going back home to get my gym clothes,” recounted Yuda. “It was a weird sensation for me to save someone’s life at my own gym, especially when I wasn’t yet there, but was on my way to go there. Thankfully, both Antony and I live nearby and we were able to respond quickly and help save this man’s life.”