On July 4th, on American Independence Day, Yossi Polishuk was at his home in Neve Yaakov when he received an urgent dispatch from the United Hatzalah command center stating that an infant had lost consciousness. As one of the closest EMTs to the scene, Yossi bolted out of his house, leapt on his ambucycle, and raced to the address, arriving in under two minutes.

Upon arriving at the scene, Yossi found a hysterical young mother beside her 4-month-old son. The child’s skin was an ominous shade of blue. The experienced medic quickly checked for a pulse, and finding none immediately began CPR. Within minutes, three other United Hatzalah volunteers arrived and the team administered chest compressions and systematic ventilations as they valiantly fought to save the baby’s life, while the mother looked on in helpless terror. Ten minutes later, an ambulance crew arrived and joined the rescue effort.

Finally, after 40 minutes of CPR, the baby’s pulse returned, to the enormous relief of the mother and all those present. The ambulance crew then asked Yossi to ride in front of the ambulance with his ambucycle to help clear the way of traffic. Yossi readily agreed, flicked on his siren and flashing lights, and led the way to the hospital, helping to shave critical seconds and minutes off the travel time.

Yossi’s rapid arrival and professional care brought vital oxygen to the infant’s brain and throughout his body in those crucial first minutes. His treatment gave this infant the best chance of survival and recovery. Later that day, United Hatzalah contacted the hospital and was very happy to hear that the baby was in stable condition.

Polishuk has been volunteering with United Hatzalah as an EMT for the past seven years. He began his stint in 2009 and has since become the head of the Neve Yaakov and Pisgat Zeev response teams. A few years later, Polishuk began to work for the organization as a dispatcher. Currently, he goes on approximately 80 emergency calls each month and has become a vital part of the organization in all areas of its operation.

Polishuk was excited after the recent rescue, as it was one of the first times that he had participated in the successful resuscitation of an infant. “Sadly, in most of the situations when we have to treat a baby who has lost consciousness, the baby does not survive. This was the first time that it happened to me that the baby did survive, and it provided everyone who was involved in the rescue with a great sense of satisfaction. To see the child survive and be able to go back to his family gave us all a feeling that we will never forget. The joy that the family felt was incomparable,” he said.

As much as Polishuk has become part of the organization and the United Hatzalah family, United Hatzalah has become a part of him and his family. “For me, my whole life and the lives of my whole family revolve around my working and volunteering with United Hatzalah. My 8-year-old son knows who is on shift for our local team at any given time. He also knows where each of the other volunteers in our local staff live. We often go to each other’s houses for Shabbat meals, and we are a close-knit team that is very friendly with one another. In United Hatzalah, we have to be friends, and even as close as family. Without that aspect of the organization, we wouldn’t be nearly as effective at saving lives.”

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Erica Terry is Managing Editor at Jspace News. She has reported on domestic and international news, Israeli politics, features and more for Jewish publications in New York, Miami and London.
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