United Hatzalah medic saves her own life

Identified only as Sarah, she did a quick mental assessment of her symptoms and compared what she felt to what she had learned in medic training.

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November 23, 2017 04:22
1 minute read.
United Hatzalah medic saves her own life

United Hatzalah fly car. (photo credit: BECKY BROTHMAN)

A young woman who recently graduated from a volunteer medics course at United Hatzalah saved her own life by realizing from symptoms that she was suffering from a pulmonary embolism (PE).

Identified only as Sarah, she did a quick mental assessment of her symptoms and compared what she felt to what she had learned in medic training.

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Sarah realized that what she felt seemed to be PE. However, when she went to a hospital, the triage nurse in the emergency room was skeptical.

But Sarah insisted and after a blood test and CT scan were performed, the hospital staff confirmed that she had a sudden, minor blockage, which was caused by an arterial blood clot in her lung.

In most cases, the clots are small and are not deadly, but they can damage the lung – if the clot is large and stops blood flow to the lung, it can be fatal.

She received heavy blood thinners just in time and was hospitalized overnight for observation to make sure that her condition improved and that the clot had dissolved.

“I had spent 24 hours feeling like something was wrong,” said Sarah, who wished to withhold her last name. “I had chest pain, difficulty breathing, and dizziness. After 24 hours of this, I said to myself: ‘Maybe I am suffering from a pulmonary embolism.’ I learned about them in my United Hatzalah medic course and to always consider symptoms like mine as the possibility of an embolism,” Sarah recalled. “I went with my husband to the hospital where they laughed at me. ‘It’s very unlikely that you, a young healthy woman, are having a pulmonary embolism,’ they told me.”

“After having blood tests, which indicated that I was three times more likely to have a PE, they rushed me into a CT scan to look for a clot. Sure enough, when they reviewed the CT, there it was in my lower left lung. A small one, but one nonetheless.”

Neither Sarah nor the medical staff at the hospital knew what caused the PE, but the medical teams told her they would never have thought to look for it, and that her training saved her life. “I want to thank United Hatzalah for my medic course, as it actually saved my very own life today,” Sarah said.


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