At a time when most are honoring their fathers and enjoying the day with their families, 17-year-old Israeli Guy Gold sits inside an intensive recovery ward at a highly specialized burn care unit in Boston, thousands of miles from his home, family and friends.
Guy vividly recalls that unforgettable Friday afternoon, two years ago, when his father, Chanan, took him out for a special ride in the family’s Porsche collector’s car. They were driving around Tel Aviv, enjoying the beautiful warm sunshine and the fresh breeze from the Mediterranean. Laughter filled the day, one of precious memories. Suddenly, another car, also a luxury vehicle, swerved out of control and struck the Golds’ car, which was totaled. Later, the Gold family learned that this driver was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.
At the time of the accident, United Hatzalah medic Arale Klein was about one block away from the scene. He noticed the smoke and zoomed over on his ambucycle, a United Hatzalah motorcycle stocked with medical equipment.
“I was one street away parallel to the highway and saw the smoke so I knew help was needed,” he recalled. “I arrived and witnessed an awful scene, one of the toughest scenes of my life. Both Chanan and Guy screamed in pain and were severely burned. I first went to treat Chanan and stripped off his clothes because his whole body was full of blisters. He got himself out of the car and was pacing around, shouting the whole time, ‘My son, the car, get him out,’ he repeated again and again.” Guy remained trapped in the burning car and because of his father’s insistence and concern, he got to live.
Klein approached the car, took out shears from his pocket and cut the seat belt off of Guy. He summoned a soldier nearby for assistance. “We pulled Guy out from the burning car and stretched him out on the ground,” he said. “We saw his body full of severe burns. Thirty seconds later, there was an enormous explosion that burned everything. The entire car and whatever was near it went up in flames.”
“Without a doubt, the speed and equipment of my ambucycle helped me save Guy,” said Klein, who has been a volunteer paramedic for nearly 25 years. “I was the first on the scene and am grateful I could get Guy out before the explosion.”
Sadly, the loving father passed away from his injuries two weeks after the accident.
Since the accident, Guy has been oscillating between life and death, his mother Rita explained. They recently traveled to Boston to undergo specialized treatment for the burns that cover his body. In Boston, they met Ed and Nancy Roberts, who were incredibly moved by Chanan and how he, together with Klein and United Hatzalah, saved the life of Guy, a teenager now continuing to fight for his life without a father to mentor and inspire him. In memory of Chanan, the Roberts family donated a new ambucycle to United Hatzalah, so that others can get the same chance to live as Guy.
In these serious accidents and medical emergencies, seconds make the difference between life and death, according to experience from medical professionals and emergency responders. “Getting to the scene in time to get a victim out of smoking vehicles makes the difference between a close call and a shiva call,” said Eli Beer, president and founder of United Hatzalah. “In any traumatic situation, quick response time is crucial in the battle for survival.”
Moreover, fatalities from car accidents are on the rise in Israel. The number of car accidents in Israel has risen 22 percent since 2014, and the number of fatalities is up 36 percent. In the US, nearly one-third of deaths are linked to car accidents caused by people driving drunk.
In a brazen attempt to reduce the number of fatalities and better serve the Israeli population, United Hatzalah’s network of 2,500 volunteers works tirelessly around the clock and the country to be the first responders to arrive on scene following an accident. Using GPS technology and a fleet of ambucycles, United Hatzalah volunteers are capable of arriving within 90 seconds following a reported incident.
“Our volunteers, located across Israel, have an enormous capability in curbing fatalities,” explained Beer. “With quick response time and sufficient equipment, we hope to be able to touch more families during their times of tragedy and continue making the difference in life saving.”
By Daniela Berkowitz