Col. Sharon Asman likely died from cardiac arrest, committee investigating his death finds

The committee found that the medical teams should have used a defibrillator at an earlier stage in the resuscitation attempt, even if there was no guarantee that it would have saved him.

IDF Lt.-Col. Sharon Asman who collapsed and died during a combat fitness drill, July 1, 2021.  (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
IDF Lt.-Col. Sharon Asman who collapsed and died during a combat fitness drill, July 1, 2021.
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

Col. Sharon Asman, who collapsed during a combat fitness drill last summer, likely died from cardiac arrest, according to a military investigative committee.

Asman, who had taken command of the Nahal Brigade a few days before, collapsed at the Beit Lid military base east of Netanya. Medical personnel who arrived at the scene were unable to revive him.

The committee, headed by Brig.-Gen (res.) Guy Hasson, along with a medical subcommittee headed by Lt.-Col. Dr. Sharon Ohayon, said the cause of death could not be determined with certainty.

“After examining the event, and based on extensive medical knowledge backed by medical research,” the most probable cause of death was cardiac arrest, it said.

The Nahal Brigade doctor responded within minutes of Asman’s collapse and immediately began resuscitation efforts with the help of Magen David Adom medics who arrived at the scene, the committee reported.

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi and late Col. Sharon Asman's widow at his funeral, Sunday, July 4, 2021.  (credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi and late Col. Sharon Asman's widow at his funeral, Sunday, July 4, 2021. (credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)

The medical teams should have used a defibrillator at an earlier stage in the resuscitation attempt, even if there was no guarantee it would have saved him, the report said.

There are discrepancies in the guidelines regarding where to place defibrillators, and the gym where Asman collapsed did not have one, the committee said. It recommended an extensive deployment of defibrillators in IDF units immediately.

It also recommended “refreshing and practicing” ways to contact MDA, which is the most readily available medical response team for emergencies at military bases located next to cities.

The committee’s findings were presented to Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi, who ordered the military to monitor service members with health-risk factors and to place a defibrillator in every gym on military bases and other suitable areas. They must be purchased and installed by July 1.

Kohavi stressed the importance of conducting health questionnaires and having troops take mandatory health tests, including for career officers, as a condition for their promotion.

Asman, who was 43 years old and a father of two, enlisted in the Nahal Brigade in 1997 and held several command positions during 25 years of service, including field, staff and training positions.

He participated in fighting in the security zone in southern Lebanon.

Asman served as an officer in the brigade’s Operations Division and commanded the 931st Shaham Battalion during Operation Protective Edge in 2014. He also commanded the Etzion and Benyamin brigades.

Asman served as an officer in Northern Command’s Operations Division before being appointed as commander of the Nahal Brigade.