May 22, 2024
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MTA Student Akiva Pudell Saves a Life at Marathon, Then Completes Race

This year, MTA’s varsity hockey team participated in the ING Miami Half-Marathon, running as part of Chai Lifeline’s “Team Lifeline” marathon group. The team has run the Miami Half-Marathon the past three years, raising nearly $80,000 each year, with the proceeds going to support Chai Lifeline’s work on behalf of children who face severe pediatric illnesses.

This year, one student marathoner was faced with a greater challenge than just completing the 13.1 mile run. MTA senior—and starting defenseman—Akiva Pudell was halfway through his ninth mile and making good time. The weather was hot and the humidity was severe, but he had managed to keep a consistent 9-minute mile. He had slowed down at a water station to grab a drink when he heard someone calling from behind him, “Man down! We need a medic!”

Akiva is a trained EMT who works the Saturday overnight shift for the Teaneck Volunteer Ambulance Corp. He immediately turned around to see if he could help. “I expected to see a guy sitting on the curb, just dehydrated and out of breath,” Pudell recalls, “instead, I saw a man lying ‘supine’—face up—and surrounded by people simply gawking.” The fallen runner wasn’t breathing, and had gone unresponsive, so Pudell snapped into action.

“I checked his pulse, but there wasn’t anything, so I began performing CPR,” Pudell says. At just that time, another jogger ran up, identified himself as a member of the Washington Heights Hatzalah, and began to help Akiva. “I saw pretty quickly that we needed a defibrillator, oxygen, and a sharp object to cut open the guy’s shirt,” says Pudell, “but no one had any scissors or other medical equipment. But there was police officer standing with me, and he had a knife on his belt. I asked to use it, and I then cut the runner’s shirt open.” Akiva directed the marathon’s medical staff to bring the necessary equipment and continued to treat the fallen runner until a defibrillator was brought to the scene. Pudell placed the electrodes on the man’s chest, until the defibrillator’s built-in computer announced “shock advised.”

“I said ‘clear!’ but nobody moved. Then I said ‘I’m shocking this guy!’ and everyone got out of the way,” recalls Pudell. After being shocked with a defibrillator, the runner regained his pulse, began breathing and, though disoriented, was eventually able to talk to Akiva. Soon afterward, other paramedics arrived in a golf cart, and Akiva briefed them on the situation.

After relaying the necessary details, Pudell then got up, brushed himself off, and completed the four remaining miles of the half-marathon. “I just did my job,” Akiva says, “it was all training and instinct.”

In recognition of his service, Pudell’s half-marathon medal was engraved with “EMT – CPR Save,” a brief acknowledgement of his truly momentous accomplishment.

After graduating MTA in the spring, Pudell plans to study in Israel for the year. Asked if he’ll run the Jerusalem Marathon in 2015, he simply responds, “I hope to. That and Miami.”

By Asher Finkelstein (YUHSB, ’15)

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