Turning personal tragedy into a life-saving gift: Why I became a United Hatzalah EMT The story of Davidi Dahan

“When I was younger, my mother collapsed in my arms. I was 19 at the time. My mother had a severe stroke right before she collapsed. I held her close. Surrounding me stood my 4 siblings, three younger sisters and my brother who was only three years old at the time. They were looking at me. They wanted me to act, to do something, but I had no idea of what to do. We called for an ambulance and we waited almost 30 minutes until it arrived. It felt like forever.”

United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Davidi Dahan with his medical kit.
United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Davidi Dahan with his medical kit.

This was the beginning of the path that led Davidi Dahan to become one of the most active members of United Hatzalah’s volunteer EMTs. The feeling of helplessness that he experienced while watching his mother suddenly suffer a stroke, and eventually pass away, right in front of him was too much for him to bear. “My mother never regained consciousness,” said Dahan. “She was brought to the hospital and stayed there for a week before she died.”

Dahan reflected that the sensations he felt during the incident shook him to his core during the ritual seven-day mourning period known in Judaism as Shiva. “During the week of mourning, the feelings of helplessness kept flooding back to me, again and again. My lack of ability to help my own mother as she lay in my arms was not something that I could stomach. When we got up from mourning I was determined to make sure that something like this would never happen again. I took a medics course and joined the volunteer EMTs, paramedics, and doctors who work tirelessly saving lives with United Hatzalah.”

Since joining the ranks of United Hatzalah, Dahan has responded to hundreds of emergency medical calls and treated hundreds of sick and injured people. “I treated many people and I have saved countless lives. Just a few days ago I received an emergency call from the dispatch center sending me to a case involving a young girl who was having trouble breathing. The dispatch center told me that I was very close to the incident. I got out of bed at 2 a.m. and I ran to the location. I arrived in less than three minutes. At the scene I found a girl, only two years old, who was having respiratory problems. I began treating her immediately and stayed with her until the ambulance arrived, calming the family the entire time.”

“A little bit further down the hallway, the siblings of the young girl stood watching with concerned looks on their faces. They were asking what was happening and they too were looking to me to save their sister. The memory of my own siblings looking to me to provide help for our mother came to mind. I smiled and told them that I will be treating their sister and that everything was going to be fine. Indeed, she was. The image of my mother and that fateful day when my siblings looked to me to provide help comes to my mind a lot when I go out on emergency calls. Today however, because of that incident, I know what to do. I know how to help people. I look back on that image and it gives me strength. The strength I need to go out and help people at any time of the day or night. It, more than anything, gives me the will and strength to carry on knowing that now, no more lives will be lost on my watch.”

This is just one story of a volunteer EMT who leaves everything any time he receives a call and goes to save the lives of other. Every emergency medical services volunteer has a story as to why they decided to become an EMT, paramedic or doctor, who goes out to save lives. These people are the heroes of our neighborhood and our community and our country and they deserve our utmost appreciation. They certainly have mine.

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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