Petah Tikva man chokes on falafel, saved by EMTs passing by

When United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Neria Cohen left a Petah Tikvah store, he heard a commotion – along with cries for help – coming from the shop next door, where a man was choking on falafel.

Three falafel and salad-filled pitas. (photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
Three falafel and salad-filled pitas.
(photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

A man in his 80’s was rescued by Hatzalah EMTs in Petah Tikvah on Tuesday afternoon after choking on falafel and eventually losing consciousness, the Hatzalah announced.

When United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Neria Cohen left a Petah Tikvah store, he heard a commotion – along with cries for help – coming from the shop next door. Neria responded immediately and called United Hatzalah’s dispatch center to request backup. A local paramedic also happened to be in the area and rapidly responded to the situation.

When the medical personnel began the Heimlich Maneuver in order to force out the piece of food that was lodged in the man’s throat, the situation grew graver, as the piece of falafel was not coming out and the man eventually lost consciousness.

Cohen and the paramedic lay the patient flat down on the ground and began chest compressions, as Cohen ran across the street to his car to bring his United Hatzalah medical kit and raced back to help perform the chest compressions.

Additional Hatzalah volunteers arrived at the scene to join the CPR efforts, inserting an IV line and administering fluids to the patient as they continued their rescue efforts. Medical personnel tried using a manual respirator but it wasn’t working efficiently, as the piece of food remained lodged deep into the man’s lungs.

 Chaim Ozer street, Petah Tikvah. (credit: UNITED HATZALAH‏) Chaim Ozer street, Petah Tikvah. (credit: UNITED HATZALAH‏)

After 20 minutes, the Hatzalah arrived and took charge of the situation, which had grown dire as the man could not breathe and no longer had a pulse.

Paramedics then inserted an Intracanal tube into his trachea to suck air in and thus, they were able to successfully remove the piece of falafel.

After another five minutes, the man’s pulse returned and he was transferred to the Beilinson medical center in Petach Tikvah for further care.

“The man was really lucky that there were two trained medical responders right near him. It’s crazy that both the paramedic and I were so close and just happened to be passing by the very moment he choked. Furthermore, I had my medical kit on hand so the patient didn't go very long without oxygen, which was a real help,” said Cohen. “Without the medical equipment, we can assume that his chances of survival would have been much slimmer, and the outcome could have been much different. Everything happened very quickly, but one thing I can say for sure is that this man was very lucky today.”