The junior varsity basketball game had already begun. Ida Crown Jewish Academy in Skokie, Illinois, was hosting Luther North College Prep, a Christian school from Chicago’s northwest side.
Suddenly, a commotion erupted on the visiting team’s bench. Luther North’s coach started yelling for help; one of the players,15-year-old Maleek Allen, had collapsed and lay motionless on ground.
Two dads from Ida Crown Jewish Academy leapt into action. Elisha Rosenblum was in the gym selling snacks for a school fundraiser and waiting for his son to play in a varsity game later that night. “I heard a crash,” he recounted in an Aish.com interview. “I looked over and saw a kid sprawled out on the floor.”
Elisha is familiar with automated external defibrillators (AED), having ensured that his synagogue acquired one of the life-saving machines. Elisha raced to get the school’s AED machine. “People told me they had never seen me run so fast.”
Meanwhile, Steven Greenberg, who was watching his son play, dialed 911 and reported an emergency. The dispatcher asked him about the patient and he ran over to the visiting team’s bench to put their coach on the phone.
When he got there, he saw the AED machine. “People were yelling, saying ‘stay with us,’” Greenberg explains in an Aish.com exclusive interview. “I saw the machine sitting there unused. At that point nobody was doing anything to help the child other than asking if he’s breathing and he was unresponsive.”
Greenberg had never used an AED machine before but he knew what to do. As an assistant coach on the Ida Crown Jewish Academy’s baseball team, Greenberg was required to undergo first aid training.
Opening the AED machine, he quickly found the first paddle but couldn’t locate the lead for the second. As precious seconds went by, he examined the machine and with help from the Luther North coach, he located the second lead. He placed it on the player’s chest and administered a life-saving shock that restarted his heart. Within moments, Maleek Allen took a breath.
The AED machine indicated to start CPR, and Greenberg did, following the machine’s instructions. After a few minutes, an EMT and ambulance crew showed up and Greenberg returned to the stands, trying to answer other parents’ questions about what was happening. “I received a text from the EMT in the ambulance Maleek saying he was responsive, and if it wasn’t for the coach who performed CPR he wouldn’t have made it…. I had a moment to myself and broke down.”
“We’re very appreciative,” Maleek’s father Corey Miggins told reporters after his son’s collapse and surgery. “We’re very grateful and we just thank God that we have Maleek here.” Doctors discovered that Maleek has a serious condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
Greenberg drove to the local hospital where Maleek Allen was taken and stayed until he was transferred to a larger medical center later that night. The next day Greenberg’s heroic role in saving Maleek Allen went viral.
“I don’t know why it’s resonated so much,” Greenberg reflects. “I don’t look at it as being hero. I look at it as something everyone would want to do.”
Greenberg feels that his story resonates with people looking for some good news in the world. “I think that with all the bad stuff going on right now, whether it’s shootings in Chicago or situations in our country with hatred and violence, I think people are very much looking for good news.”
Ida Crown Jewish Academy dedicated a “Day of Learning” to encourage Torah learning and good deeds in the merit of Maleek Allen’s complete recovery, and to thank Steven Greenberg.
The incident has reinforced Greenberg’s view that nothing in life is random. Elisha Rosenblum, who raced to get the AED, concurs. Noting that many things went right that fateful night in the gym, he realizes “God was watching over that kid.”
“God put me in that situation, and put Maleek in that situation so that something could be learned from it,” Greenberg explains. “So much is out of our control. It’s up to each of us to choose how we respond to the circumstances in which we find ourselves. We have a responsibility to save lives.”