I sit facing my computer, and words fail me. I have just witnessed one of the most tragic and traumatic events of my life.
A Jewish young man died in my arms tonight. His sin? Being Jewish in Jerusalem.
At about 8:25 this evening, we got a call from the MDA dispatcher about a stabbing on David Street - the Arab shuk leading from Jaffa Gate to the Kotel. I immediately left my apartment and sped over to the chaotic scene not far from there on a Hatzolah ambu-cycle.
Upon arrival, a horrible sight greeted me. A young Jewish man, lying in a pool of his own blood, with a 15" knife sticking out of his stomach. After being at many bombings, car accidents and other traumatic events, this scene had the distinction of being the worst one I have ever seen.
His skin a very pale color, and his eyes half open, I reached him. The only people around were police officers, who didn't really know what to do. The young Jewish man was not breathing, and he had no pulse.
This is the nightmare of any EMT. Alone, as the only person with medical training at the scene, there is not much you can do. Many tasks need to be done, and many people are needed to do them. Starting CPR, connecting oxygen, starting numerous IV's due to massive blood loss and trying to stop the bleeding are some of the things that need to be done, but in the seconds that I was there, my mind stopped working. One cannot think rationally in such situations -- one must act like a robot, doing whatever could be done as quickly as possible. First, I called for backup on my MIRS, and then I started CPR. Even with all of the expensive equipment that we have, there are times that the only thing you can use is a simple pocket mask.
Using a bag valve mask on a trauma patient that you are having trouble opening an airway for is a waste of time. It is close to impossible to use on your own on such a patient. I took out my trusty face mask, and started mouth to mouth resuscitation. I felt his lungs fill up with air, and I was slightly encouraged. One of the police officers started chest compressions (as well as he could), and we continued basic CPR for a minute or two.
At this point, an ambulance with a paramedic -- Aryeh Yaffe -- arrived at the scene, along with Rafi Herbst and another volunteer. We now had four sets of hands instead of one, and could now start to try to save the young Jewish man's life.
We immediately searched for the wounds and tried to stop the bleeding. At the same time we tried to start an IV, but were having difficulty due to the massive amounts of blood that he lost. We continued CPR, this time with a bag valve mask and good compressions, and in the meantime, more volunteers from the Jewish Quarter arrived on foot, and quickly took my place. Shortly thereafter a MDA Mobile ICU arrived and continued to work on the patient - the doctor I saw on their crew was one of the best I have ever seen working under pressure and keeping his cool - as well as giving fantastic care to the patient.
Soon, we had three IV's running, and we were trying to restart the young man's heart using drugs. Atropine, Sodium Bicarbonate were used among other drugs, and soon we had a heart rhythm on the EKG, although we did not have a pulse. We moved the patient to the mobile ICU who transferred him to the trauma center at Haddassah Ein Karem, but the young man was pronounced dead in the operating room -- he had a massive gash in the veins and arteries in his stomach, and we could not save him. When I had arrived at the scene previously -- he was no longer with us, yet we tried everything that we could to bring him back -- to no avail.
What was the young man's crime? What did he do wrong? To us, the residents of the Old City, these answers are clear. The Arabs want us out of Israel -- out of Jerusalem.
The terrorism will continue -- and will get much worse in Jerusalem. One thing I can tell you -- we won't run. We will stand firm, and remain here until one side wins -- us or them. The battle is for the soul of the Land of Israel -- let no one think otherwise.
In the meantime, I'm sure you are asking yourselves: what can be done? The answer, as I see it, is threefold.
Physical help: This includes writing to congressmen, senators, politicians; trying to influence the viewpoint of others around you; visiting Israel; helping us in our struggle.
More importantly, we must realize that our fate is decided in Heaven. When a decree comes from before God, we must take a deeper look at ourselves and try to find what is wrong spiritually. Each of us must make additional effort in the spiritual realm to do more mitzvot and study Torah, and through that may we merit the rescinding of the terrible sword that hangs above our heads.
Let us cry together. Let us understand that a Jew murdered in Jerusalem must have an impact upon the entire Jewish nation -- we must realize the depths that we have reached. We are a splintered, fragmented nation -- each of us finding fault with the other. At the very least, let us join together in sorrow, and cry as one for the blood of a young man, murdered in Jerusalem simply because he was a Jew.
Written in sorrow by
Moshe Simons, EMT
Hatzolah & MDA Volunteer
Hatzolah Newsletter Editor
Jewish Quarter, Jerusalem
If you wish to help in purchasing medical equipment for Hatzolah in the Old City, please email firstname.lastname@example.org