On Monday night at around 10:30 p.m., a 50-year-old woman collapsed in her front yard in Ein Naqquba, an Arab village west of Jerusalem. Her children found her lying unresponsive on the ground a few minutes later and immediately called emergency services for help.
Samr Salama is a Muslim volunteer EMT for United Hatzalah and was the first responder who arrived at the scene of the incident. He was in his home a few streets away from the woman’s house and sped over on his ambucycle as soon as he got the notification of the emergency.
Upon his arrival, Samr connected his defibrillator to the pulseless woman and began to perform chest compressions. The family members of the woman were all crowding around, worried and upset about what had happened to their dear mother. “Understandably, the family members would want to be present as I perform the resuscitation, but it was incredibly frustrating for me as they were preventing me from working efficiently,” said Samr after the incident. “Many people don’t realize that the best thing they can do for their loved one is to stand back and let the trained EMTs do what they can to save the patient, instead of trying to get involved. I was trying to tell this to the family because it was quite chaotic.”
Other United Hatzalah volunteers arrived a few minutes in, including Dovi Bash, a volunteer EMT from the nearby town of Kiryat Ye’arim. He was in the synagogue at the time of the incident and rode over on his ambucycle as fast as he could to help with the resuscitation.
The volunteer EMTs had been performing compressions and ventilating with a BVM (bag valve mask) for around 10 minutes and the defibrillator still hadn’t detected a heart rhythm to administer a shock. As the time continued to pass some of the team members’ hopes for a successful resuscitation started to fade.
An intensive care ambulance arrived at the scene and the paramedic administered medications and fluids to the patient via an IV. The paramedic attached a heart monitor which showed that the patient’s pulse returned to a steady rhythm of 140 bpm as soon as it was in place. The team was relieved and excited that they had just witnessed a miracle.
The woman was fitted with a non-rebreather oxygen mask and was transferred into the ambulance to be brought to the hospital for further care and recovery.
“I would like to point out the incredible teamwork that took place between all of the EMS personnel at the scene,” Dovi said. “In general, I am always pleased that the United Hatzalah volunteers, and the patients that we treat, come from all different races and religions and that we work together as a team with no discrimination. It always feels good to go home for the night after saving a life.”
Samr Salama said after the incident, “This was one of the hardest resuscitations I’ve been a part of, but I’m just happy that the resuscitation went smoothly, and that the woman is okay and I thank my fellow responders for joining me in saving the woman’s life.”