A typical Friday night for a volunteer EMT hero

Here is the story of a man named Ariel Amrani, a volunteer medic with United Hatzalah. Stories like this are not uncommon for many volunteer EMTs, paramedics and doctors around Israel. Stories of true heroism and selflessness.

Ariel Amrani is a husband, father of two, and a student. He also works as an emergency room volunteer, and is a United Hatzalah volunteer EMT who races to medical emergencies whenever he is called. Just over a week ago, Amrani was called upon to save an infant who had suffered severe burns to her chest.

A United Hatzalah volunteer medic on his ambucycle (Credit: United Hatzalah media department)
A United Hatzalah volunteer medic on his ambucycle (Credit: United Hatzalah media department)

It was Friday evening and the cantor had just finished the pre-Sabbath services. The evening prayers were about to begin at the synagogue when suddenly the crackle of Ariel’s walkie-talkie was heard throughout the room. “Baby, badly scalded,” relayed the command center operative over the walkie-talkie. In a split second, Ariel was out the door and running to his ambucycle. His fellow worshippers were shocked but not surprised, as they had all seen this dedicated young man responding to medical emergencies many times before, at all hours of the day and night. In under two minutes, Ariel was already at the victim’s home, in the town of Psagot. Ariel heard the horrific screams from outside. He burst through the door and found a completely hysterical mother trying in vain to comfort her shrieking one-year-old daughter, who had spilled a cup of boiling water on her chest, stomach, and hands.

Ariel scooped up the child and ran with her to the bathtub.  Knowing that cold water could shock the delicate infant, as well as cause a sudden and dangerous drop to her body temperature, the experienced medic gently ran cool water over the baby’s body in an effort to soothe her pain.  Ariel focused the water stream on the baby’s chest to ensure the burn injury would not affect the baby’s ability to breathe.

Amrani then instructed the mother to continue applying the water, while he removed special burn bandages from his medical kit. The ambulance arrived six minutes later and Ariel, together with other United Hatzalah volunteers who had already arrived at the scene, assisted the crew in opening an IV line and administering pain relief drugs to the infant. By the time the mobile intensive care unit arrived, 13 minutes later, the infant was fast asleep. The mother thanked Ariel for his rapid arrival and extremely professional treatment.

“Injuries involving infants are difficult for trained professionals and even more so for the parents. When we treat an infant we also have to take into account that, in addition to the physical treatment, one has to treat the emotional distress of the parents. These situations can lead to a lot of feelings of guilt, and that causes the situation to be more stressful,” said Amrani.

“Together with the other volunteers from United Hatzalah, I treated the child who was then taken to Hadassah Ein Kerem burn center. The girl spent a few days there before she was released and returned home. The entire community was very worried about her and we are all happy that she is recovering.

Ariel is a nursing student at Shaare Zedek Medical Center and is enrolled in a paramedics course in addition to volunteering with United Hatzalah.  “I am very busy and, unfortunately, I don’t get to see my children or my wife that much during the week. So when I miss a Friday night dinner with my family it certainly is something that I feel. But it is incomparable to helping a child get the treatment that they need as quickly as they can. My wife is also an EMT with United Hatzalah, and she certainly understands the challenges involved with being a United Hatzalah EMT. We have a system, and together it works great,” said Amrani.

“The important thing,” Amrani continued, “is that the people who need us get the help they need as fast as possible. That is what we are here to do.”

When Ariel finally arrived at his in-laws’ home that evening, where they were dining, they had already finished the first course and were naturally wondering, “where on earth is Ariel?”. He explained what had happened and received knowing nods from his proud family.

About the Author
Raphael Poch is a Canadian-Israeli playwright, producer, director, actor and journalist. He is the International Media Spokesperson for United Hatzalah and runs the First City Improv Troupe.
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