By Adam Samuel | August 14, 2019
A Teaneck teen is being hailed as a hero after he helped save the life of a 60-year-old Israeli woman. Sixteen-year-old Sam Blech was volunteering as a member of NCSY Hatzalah Rescue, a month-long summer program in Israel for teens that teaches emergency medical practices and how to be first responders, when he was sent out on a call to assist in the rescue of an unresponsive woman at an apartment complex. Arriving at the scene along with his fellow NCSY Hatzalah Rescue member, Rivkah Zigman, who is also 16, and from Oregon, Blech began working on the patient, along with Zigman, alternating between operating the AED, doing compressions and giving rescue breaths. Through their combined efforts, along with additional assistance from EMTs from United Hatzalah and paramedics from Magen David Adom, the patient was able to regain her pulse and was transported to a hospital. A ceremony was held at a later date honoring their good work where they, along with another pair of teens who saved a different life, were honored and gifted with a medal.
According to their website, NCSY Hatzalah Rescue is a “co-ed travel program for teens who are looking to learn CPR, hemorrhage control and how to be a first responder.” It prides itself on being “an experience of a lifetime,” while also teaching volunteers how to remain calm under pressure and how to correctly act during an emergency situation. In addition to instruction about emergency medical practices, the program also includes water sports in the Kineret, Jeep trips in the desert and more.
For Blech, the program was an enriching experience from which he learned greatly. Speaking with The Jewish Link, he shared, “When we got the call we were told that it was an unconscious patient. We weren’t sure if she passed out because of heatstroke, low-blood sugar or anything like that. I was actually pretty nervous because before we got the call we were on our way to help someone else but they were unfortunately dead when we arrived. I was worried the same thing would happen again. When we saved her though I was super happy and couldn’t stop smiling.”
Blech is an active member of NCSY, a Jewish organization for teens that offers social events and activities. Learning about NCSY Hatzalah Rescue from Latte and Learning, one of NCSY’s local programs, he eagerly decided to sign up and become a volunteer.
“It sounded like a really good program so I decided to sign up,” Blech continued. “I hope to one day work in the medical field, and it was something that aligned with my interests. I didn’t know anyone else going on, but I really had a great time and learned a lot. I’m now even more interested in the medical field than I was before.”
Blech has since returned to the United States for his upcoming year of school at MTA.
“NCSY holds an event called Yom NCSY where all of their programs come together to recognize what the members have done,” he said. “At the event they had a presentation where they gave me and [the other three members] medals for saving our first lives. It’s really been a whirlwind, but I owe the fact that I was even able to be in a position to save the woman’s life to the program I was on. I think it’s great for people looking to get into the medical field or just want to learn more about what to do in emergency situations, like if a person, God forbid, has a heart attack in a grocery store, they don’t have to just be a bystander. They can get involved, start doing compressions, and taking action to maybe saving that person’s life. Every second in those situations count, and I highly recommend this program to those looking to help others.”
By Adam Samuel