The fringed ritual garment – tzitzit – worn by a United Hatzalah emergency medical technician (EMT) saved the life of a young woman whose legs were seriously hurt in last Thursday’s bus crash in Jerusalem after he turned it into a tourniquet to stop her heavy bleeding.
Shalom Klein was standing at the bus stop on Shamgar Street in the Romema quarter with his wife and seven-month-old son when an Egged bus careened out of control and smashed into the bus stop where they were standing. Fortunately, Klein and his family were unharmed, but others on the sidewalk were not so lucky.
Klein quickly took his family to safety across the street and then rushed back to help the injured. “I told my wife to stay here and that I had to go back and help. I didn’t know what the state of those injured in the crash were, but I knew I had to help,” he recalled. “I didn’t have time to worry about getting medical equipment, I just ran.”
“I didn’t have time to worry about getting medical equipment, I just ran.”Shalom Klein
Klein ran back across the street and saw a mother and daughter lying on the ground, already dead. “It was painful to admit, but the mother and child were already deceased and I couldn’t help them,” he said. “I did find a young woman with severe injuries to both of her legs. I took off my tzitzit and tied them around one of her legs as a tourniquet, stemming the blood flow. Another United Hatzalah volunteer EMT arrived and tied a tourniquet on her other leg.”
Klein was later in touch with a member of the young woman’s family, who told him that while she had lost consciousness in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, the doctors were caring for her – and already before Shabbat, she was beginning to show signs of recovery. “The woman’s relative told me that she was beginning to recover – and the doctors attributed the fact that she was alive to the tourniquets that were put on her legs,” he said.
Saving someone's life with tzitzit
Klein said that he never thought his tzitzit would save someone’s life, “but, on Thursday, they did. I am glad that my family is safe. It was an absolute miracle that we weren’t hurt ourselves. The bus [whose brakes were mistakenly left without locking the wheels] careened into the people gathered at the bus stop, and it hit people right and left. I believe that I was spared so that I could save this young woman’s life. I was in the right place at the right time to help. I used what I had on me and I improvised just like we are taught in training. Today, that lesson saved a life.”