Jewish, Muslim EMTs perform lifesaving CPR in tandem

The two volunteers, EMTs Keren Ezouz and Imad Zoabi, responded to the scene after the mother of the victim alerted United Hatzalah that her son collapsed for unknown reasons.

(L-R) United Hatzalah EMT volunteers Imad Zoabi, Keren Ezouz and Adi Kanias (photo credit: UNITED HATZALAH‏)
(L-R) United Hatzalah EMT volunteers Imad Zoabi, Keren Ezouz and Adi Kanias
(photo credit: UNITED HATZALAH‏)
A crew of Jewish and Muslim volunteers successfully performed CPR to save the life of a 28-year-old man who collapsed suddenly in his home in Afula on Monday.
The two volunteers, EMTs Keren Ezouz and Imad Zoabi, responded to the scene after the mother of the victim alerted United Hatzalah that her son collapsed for unknown reasons.
“I went to Afula to take care of some errands in the ‘big’ [large strip mall]," Ezouz said, describing her day up to the moment she received the call. "I walked into a stationery store in order to purchase a binder and I received the emergency alert from United Hatzalah’s Dispatch and Command Center.
"I left the store, raced over to the building, and ran up the stairs into the family’s apartment,” she said.
Ezouz arrived at the scene, where the man’s neighbor was already performing CPR, and she took over once securing the scene.
"I took over doing compressions, and a few moments later I was joined by a mobile intensive care ambulance team," Ezouz said. "They were understaffed, so I asked the dispatcher to send more volunteers."
Ezouz attached a defibrillator to the man before being told that this was the second emergency the ambulance team has responded to today for the same victim. His mother purported he was suffering from an overdose.
“The man’s mother said that he may have been suffering from an overdose, so the team administered Narcan, but it had no effect,” she said.
Ezouz was then soon joined by Zoabi, who drives a private ambulance for HaShefla in the town of Tamra-Yizrael.
“I was near the hospital when I received the notice from the dispatch that Keren was in need of assistance," Zoabi said. "The address was nearby so I rushed over to help. When I walked in, I saw the team administering CPR.
"The paramedic, who is a friend of mine for many years and with whom I have responded to many medical emergencies, asked me to help and see if the man’s pulse had returned," the EMT continued. "Together, we were able to determine that a very weak pulse did indeed return, and we stopped CPR while continuing to administer assisted ventilation until the patient stabilized. It was a terrific team effort.”
Ezouz, who grew up in Ra'anana around very few Muslim neighbors, said that her and Zoabi have gotten to know each other through their work with the volunteer service.
“When my husband and I got married and had our first child, we wanted to leave the city and move to somewhere where we felt more at home raising a family," Ezouz said. "We came to Kibbutz Heftziba and after I developed my practice, I joined United Hatzalah as an EMT.
"I’ve met many terrific people through my volunteering, including Imad and Adi Kanias, the local chapter head of United Hatzalah in Afula, who also arrived to assist in the CPR,” she added.
Zoabi has been a volunteer EMT for about 15 years and said he has gotten to know many people through his profession who he normally wouldn't have the chance to meet.
“Whenever I perform a successful CPR, it always gives me a great feeling like the heavens are the limits," Zoabi said. "I’ve thankfully done a lot CPRs. This is a terrific field to be in, and the people in it, people like Keren and Adi are wonderful.”   
“This man is really young and there is no reason that he shouldn’t die at an old age," Ezouz added. "Thankfully, Imad, Adi, and I together with the ambulance crew worked together hand-in-hand and we were able to bring him back. It was a relief to all of us that he survived. Unlike many patients whom we perform CPR on, this man has a good chance of survival.”
Ezouz, who moonlights as a volunteer in Ha'Emek hospital's emergency room, visited the man whose life was saved by her and Zoabi's efforts.
“To say that he was doing well would be an overstatement. Unfortunately, he has had a lot of complications, but he has a chance to survive and he was breathing, so that is a good sign already," she said. "Doctors were not able to determine what caused the heart attack, but his condition was certainly more stable than when we brought him in in the afternoon.
"It was good to be able to visit him. I certainly hope that he makes a full recovery. Thanks to the work of the entire team this man has a fighting chance,” Ezouz said.