Eli Beer and his patient exiting the plane - with permission from the patient to use this image..
(photo credit: UNITED HATZALAH)
Onboard an El Al flight from Newark Airport to Ben-Gurion Airport on Wednesday, United Hatzalah president and founder Eli Beer saved the life of a Detroit man who was going to Israel to attend the bar mitzva of his grandson.
“While I was sleeping, someone alerted me to a person who required medical attention a few rows in front of me. I jumped up from my seat and ran to where the person was seated. I saw a man about 65 years old, with convulsions, who had a cold sweat, was very pale, had a very high pulse rate and difficulty speaking. I tried to communicate with him and was unable to do so,” he recalled.
“I asked the flight crew to bring me the doctor’s medical bag and equipment. After a short check of his vital signs, even prior to obtaining the bag, I was able to diagnose the man with hypoglycemia. His lack of glucose was so severe that it appeared he would lose consciousness at any minute and that I might have to begin cardiovascular resuscitation.”
He asked the flight crew for a glucometer, but they didn’t have one, so he asked the other passengers for one, in the event that one was diabetic and had one on hand. In the meantime, with another passenger’s help, he forced the man to swallow honey and some jam while he was still convulsing. With the glucometer he obtained, Beer found that this man’s glucose level was extremely low, at 40. After about 30 minutes, the man’s severe symptoms began to ease.
“I took responsibility and told the flight manager that there was no need for an emergency landing. I stayed with the ill patient for twoand- a-half hours to continue giving him glucose and monitor his situation until he stabilized and came back to himself. Only after his sugar level stabilized at 120 and the man regained full consciousness did I go back to my seat,” Beer said.
“The El Al staff, especially the flight manager, were very helpful, as were a psychiatrist and neurologist from Ichilov Hospital, who also helped in the beginning,” Beer said, and suggested to the airline that it should keep a glucometer on all flights.
“I am proud to be a United Hatzalah volunteer in the air and on land. I disembarked from the plane with an incredible feeling of pride for all the other United Hatzalah volunteers who do things like this every day,” Beer concluded.
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Beer spends 200 days a year abroad to raise money to cover the expenses of his 4,000-volunteer first-aid and rescue organization.
But even when he is abroad and encounters people in distress, he puts on his emergency medical technician hat and helps them.
El Al’s vice president for customer services Amir Rogovsky said: “We want to thank Eli Beer for the resourcefulness and quick thinking that he showed on this morning’s flight. We thank him from the bottom of our hearts.”
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