It’s a story that should have been shared around the world several times by now; however, almost nobody knows about it.
In late spring 2005, we invited Eitan, a Hatzolah volunteer, to accompany us to Germany on a speaking tour. Our goal was to give him and his work exposure in order to find supporters for Hatzolah. Eitan took his emergency medical kit with him in order to show the people what kind of items and supplies are most needed. He arrived in Germany on a Sunday afternoon. We met him in Frankfurt at the airport and took him to the Taunus Hills near Wiesbaden to spend the night in a small hotel near Schlangenbad. He grabbed the emergency kit along with his suitcase, then decided to leave the kit in the car for the night.
The next afternoon, we decided to take Eitan on a ride along the Rhine River to show him a little bit of the surrounding area. As we enjoyed the drive along the river, suddenly a car jetted from a road on the right into our lane in front of us. It was going too fast to make it safely into our lane and lost control. The car flipped several times before coming to a rest on its top with the wheels up. I wanted to stop quickle but Eitan screamed for me to pull up the car as close as possible. Before I stopped, he was out of our car and sprinting to the overturned car. He yelled back, “Bring me my kit!” Baruch Hashem, it was still in the car!
By the time I got his kit out of the car and ran it to him, he was already tending to the driver. The driver was unconscious, upside down, part of his skull cap was missing and he was not breathing. In a short while, Eitan was able to pull the man out from the wreckage. Quickly he grabbed what he needed most from the kit and began to revive and stabilize the dead and seriously injured young German man. Eitan said, ‘Take pictures!’ So that’s what I started to do.
As people saw the wreck, they stopped and offered their help. As Eitan noticed that there were several people, he thought it wise to don his emergency Hatzolah vest so that people could recognize who was in charge. Eitan communicated in English with the Germans as he worked feverously yet confidently on the victim.
The German ambulance showed up about fifteen minutes later and, upon seeing the quality and professionalism of Eitan and his work, deigned it appropriate not to interrupt Eitan at all. When Eitan was finished, the young man was breathing and was stabilized enough to be moved. The German professionals ordered a helicopter.
As the firemen and ambulance team stood around watching Eitan, one commented on the vest he was wearing. “I know it’s Hebrew, and that you read it from right to left; but that doesn’t help me understand what it says.” Everyone laughed. My wife Gabrielah, who was standing nearby explained to them that Eitan was a first responder in Jerusalem who had dealt with many terror victims of suicide bombings and that he ‘just happened’ to have his emergency kit with him on his first trip to Germany.
Eitan saved the young man’s life and stabilized him for the helicopter flight. The German Ambulance team was very appreciative of Eitan’s professionalism and offered him the opportunity to spend a day with them.
When the helicopter departed so did we. For some reason, we got on the ferry across the Rhine to Bingen. On board, Eitan noticed that his hands were still bloody and laughed at what he thought the people must be thinking as he headed to the toilet to wash his hands. Once on the Bingen side, we just drove. It seemed necessary to put space between us and the rescue site. Soon, however, Eitan wanted to know what happened to the victim and we headed back to Wiesbaden. We found out which Klinik he was taken to and drove there.
Inside, we walked up to the counter and inquired about the young man who had been in an accident and had been flown in by helicopter within the last hour. After learning that we were not family members, he refused to give us any more information. Thinking quickly, Eitan asked where the toilets were. We three headed in the direction of the toilets but kept going, searching for the young man. After several floors and knocking on many doors, one doctor directed us to the room where the family was waiting.
As we walked in, the mother of the young man recognized immediately that Eitan was the one to thank. She and her husband and a cousin were all waiting to learn if the young man would survive the night. They were heartbroken and fearful of the worst. Eitan, full of years of experience in traumas much worse than this, got their attention and told them how important it was for them all to be strong, especially now. They could cry later, but now they needed to focus on being strong, making sure that they eat, sleep and keep their energy up for his sake. Eitan told them that he had experienced much worse cases in which the people survived and recovered completely.
They were so thankful and felt encouraged. The young man not only survived the night but kept his eyesight and had full memory retention as well. The only loss was the hearing in one ear.
Hatzolah Volunteer saves life of German on first day in Germany
We left for our speaking engagements and stopped at the Breunigerland Shopping Center near Stuttgart and had prints made from the photos, which we put in an album to be given to the young man so he could see what had happened to him. By the time we made it back to the hospital, the young man was sitting up in his bed, well on the way to recovery. Eitan gave him the album and something very special – his Israeli Hatzolah vest!