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Four Steps That Could Help You Save a Life

In just a few minutes, MDA can arrive at an emergency in Israel; regular civilians can help by taking first steps

MDA Medic Chava Landau instructs overseas volunteers before they begin their shifts working on an MDA ambulance (photo: Courtesy)
MDA Medic Chava Landau instructs overseas volunteers before they begin their shifts working on an MDA ambulance (photo: Courtesy)

About once a minute, someone in Israel dials 1-0-1 and it’s up to Magen David Adom (MDA), Israel’s emergency medical response agency, to answer the call. During this past summer’s Operation Protective Edge, MDA paramedics stopped at nothing to do just that, often at considerable risk to their own safety. But now, even as there is relative calm, MDA continues to save lives, responding to everything from traffic accidents to babies being born. Would you know how to save a life?

MDA medic Chava Landau, who trains incoming Americans in MDA’s Overseas Volunteer Program, offers four critical tips should you come across an emergency situation. But before taking any of these steps, make sure to call for help – either 1-0-1 in Israel or 9-1-1 in the United States. Now, read on to see how you can assist until emergency responders arrive at the scene.

  1. Recognize that Something is Wrong. It might not always be completely obvious that someone is in distress. Is that person sleeping or unconscious? Trust your gut; if you see something that seems off, it probably is. As a bystander, it is easy to hesitate before deciding to get involved. But if you ignore the situation, can you guarantee the next person won’t ignore it too?
  1. Secure the Scene: Wait! Now you’ve identified a problem, but that doesn’t mean you’re ready to jump in and take action. Before making your next move, check the scene and make sure it’s safe. Never run into a situation if you don’t know how to get out of it; two injured people are a lot less effective than one. Be on the lookout for dangers in your environment like fires or cars that can’t see you. Don’t forget to use all your senses too; can you smell gas or hear gunshots? If the scene is safe, you’re ready for step 3. If it isn’t, get to a secure place and wait for help or direct the incoming ambulance or Medicycle.
  1. Prevent a Disaster: People often forget to be mindful of the dangers that could Prevent a disaster by staying alert to potential problems that could take the situation from an accident to a catastrophe. Make sure you aren’t putting additional people in danger, like leaving a child alone to help someone else. If the scene is safe, be careful not to make it unsafe, for instance, by running through traffic where you could cause an accident. Use your power of foresight mixed with some common sense.
  1. Work with the Dispatcher: As soon as you can, make the emergency 1-0-1 or 9-1-1 call. Or, if someone else is with you at the scene, save time by having them call while you follow the first three steps. When you dial 1-0-1 in Israel, you can trust that an MDA operator will be on the other end, ready to help. They’ll talk you through the appropriate lifesaving procedures, like CPR, while directing an ambulance to your location. Stay calm so you can answer their questions and follow directions.

Don’t worry, there’s no test to check if you’ve been paying attention, but make sure to store this information somewhere in your brain. You never know when you might need to use it to save a life!