A 53-year-old photographer with no history of ill-health who nearly died at a basketball game was reunited with the cool-headed medic who brought him back to life using a defibrillator, and thanked her for saving him.
Ilan Weinstock, the official photographer for the Hapoel Jerusalem basketball team, was overcome with emotion as he again came face to face with Gal Trommer at the very same Shlomo Group Arena in Tel Aviv where the dramatic events occurred two and half weeks ago.
“How are you?” Trommer asked Weinstock before the two shook hands and then embraced, in a “reunion” arranged by Channel 12 and broadcast (Hebrew) on Tuesday.
In CCTV from the night when he suffered a cardiac arrest, Weinstock can be seen walking into the basketball court shortly before a game between his team and hosts Hapoel Tel Aviv.
Watching the footage, Weinstock recalled feeling “terribly dizzy” as he moved along the sidelines. He leaned against a rail in the stands for support before collapsing seconds later.
Though he is relatively young, and had no preexisting medical conditions, Weinstock’s heart had stopped.
From that moment, there were likely no more than 5-10 minutes to save his life, and only five to prevent serious brain damage, even with cardiac massage.
Officials and bystanders rushed to help him, but a team of Magen David Adom paramedics who were deployed at the game only reached Weinstock two minutes later.
In the video of the incident, Trommer, 23, can be seen walking toward the huddle around Weinstock as some hold up towels around the fallen man to offer him some privacy.
As soon as Trommer realized what had happened, the team rushed to bring a defibrillator, a life-saving device that uses pulses of electricity to restart a person’s stalled heart.
With some 750 people in the crowds watching, Trommer set to work and after a minute and half, Weinstock regained consciousness, a rare event as even after the heart restarts most patients remain unconscious until they receive hospital treatment.
“‘Ow, enough, stop!’ he shouted,” Trommer recalled after they had shaken hands and briefly embraced back at the basketball stadium.
Weinstock, who watched the footage of his near-death with an expression that mixed horror and relief, said that his shout at Trommer was the only part of their first encounter that he remembered.
Channel 12 set up the meeting to mark National Public Deliberator Awareness Day on Tuesday, which was sponsored by MDA, the national lottery, the Center for Local Authorities and the Defi website [Hebrew] that enables users to see where the nearest defibrillator is located.
There are thousands of deliberators positioned in public areas across the country. The machines are designed to be easy to operate, even by the untrained public. If a person collapses, those nearby are advised to immediately call MDA on its national emergency number 101. If the call center deems it necessary, operators can direct callers to the nearest defibrillator and explain how to operate the device.
The machines also speak prerecorded commands, in Hebrew, guiding users through the steps for operation, including warning them when they should stay clear to avoid also receiving an electric shock.
If a person suffers a severe dysrhythmia, the defibrillator is likely their only chance for survival. With every minute that passes without the heart restarting, even with cardiac massage, the chances of survival drop by 10 percent. After five minutes, the chances of surviving without significant brain damage are very low.