Shmeel is a nickname I gave myself as a kid in elementary school. It stuck instantly with my classmates, but I can’t say the same for my immediate family. My parents grappled with it for ages, and now twenty years later my wife continues to contest it. Sorry guys – I thought shmeel.com had a great ring to it and so here we are.
This blog is about my experiences as an Ambucycle First Responder.
I was inspired to become an EMT in 2008 when my oldest son nearly choked on a cookie. My wife managed to deal with the situation using a combination of motherly instinct and common sense. I however, was utterly traumatized. I had sat throughout the whole incident, completely unable to assist in any way. I felt useless and scared, and didn’t want to feel like that again. The next push toward emergency medicine came a few days later. This time the same troublemaker had fallen off a chair, banged his head, and suffered a minor concussion. This happened on Sunday. On Monday I started my first course as an EMT-Basic at MDA Jerusalem. I would later go on to advance that knowledge, becoming an EMT-Intermediate at MDA Tel Aviv.
I was born in the United States – moved to England as a toddler, and to Israel as a teenager. I currently have the privilege to live, with my wife and kids, in the holiest city on earth – Jerusalem.
The demographics of Jerusalem is absolutely unique, because the city has immense spiritual significance in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Located within minutes of where I live, are some of the holiest sites in the world, to all three religions.
Historically Jerusalem has been the location of much conflict and bloodshed, but today people of all faiths live in peaceful coexistence. The city has become a modern metropolis, whilst at the same time the spirituality that pulses through the city’s veins is intense.
I did my first EMT course in 2008 – started volunteering in 2009 – and got my first Ambucycle in 2010. Initially I would do ambulance shifts at Magen David Adom, learning the ropes and getting “real life” experience. I was eventually recognized as a first responder, which allowed me to respond to emergency calls with my own vehicle. The next rung on the ladder was being accepted to the elite ambucycle unit, and I have been whizzing (safely) through the streets of Jerusalem since. 3000 calls – 80 CPR’s and 25 Births later, I thought the time was ripe to tell the world my story and so this blog was born.
- I get to do some amazing things – often bringing people back from the brink of death
- Carrying old / heavy people up four flights of stairs is more exciting than you might imagine
- My family doesn’t want to hear my stories anymore
- I thought you might!
In 80 words or less – I am alerted to a medical emergency in my immediate area through several high-tech devices. I get to the scene on something we affectionately call an Ambucycle. An Ambucycle is an ambulance on two wheels and is the fastest way to reach any address in the city. We carry all the equipment a regular ambulance has, except for the bed. Our job is to provide “first responder” assistance and stabilize the patient, until the ambulance arrives to transport.
Although my wife says otherwise, I am not a hero. I am just one of the thousands of nameless people who volunteer in the EMS services in Israel. If you’re lucky, you will never meet me in my professional capacity. If our paths do cross however, remember to say “Thank You”, either verbally, or in the form of a nice Gewürztraminer wine.
This blog will document my experiences as an Ambucycle Medic, responding to “Life and Death” emergency calls in my neighborhood. Truth be told however, a lot of the time, there are no heroics and no “shocking” patients back to life. About half of the calls I respond to are non-life threatening calls, like minor injuries or syncope. But these people still need help, and it’s an honor and a privilege to be able to provide that assistance.
The drawbacks of this “job” are many. It can be dangerous, dirty and difficult but it can be rewarding and meaningful as well. Occasionally even at the same time. Some calls are quickly forgotten, as soon as I leave the scene – others stay with me forever.
Whilst the stories I tell might not always be in chronological order (I like to reminisce about the “good old days”), they are all absolutely true and have happened in real life, to real people, in front of my very eyes.
Thank you to my patients who have given me so much writing material.
Thank you to my fellow EMT’s – you guys are amazing.
This blog is dedicated with tremendous gratitude to you!
Every time I ran out of the house amidst a wail of sirens, this is what I was doing …
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Shmeel.com is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of Physicians. The reader should regularly consult a Doctor in matters relating to his/her health and particularly with respect to any symptoms that may require immediate medical attention
Shmeel.com contains posts relating to the beginning and/or end of Life, that some readers may find disturbing or mature – Reader discretion is advised
All views expressed herein are my own and do not reflect those of the EMS Organizations in Israel
Names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals