April 21, 2024
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April 21, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Hatzolah rescued me about three or four times today, so overall, I’d consider it a productive day. Though I thought I’d be rescued way more than that.

Don’t worry, I’m okay. Last week, my wife found out that Hatzolah was seeking volunteers to pretend to be patients at a training session. So I signed up. I figured, “What’s the worst that could happen?” You know, besides for something medically wrong actually chas v’shalom happening to me, like if I’d fall down and break something, and everyone would think I was acting. I’d be yelling, “Ow!” and they’d all be clapping.

“Very nice! What a great actor! Ok, now help us skootch you onto this stretcher.”

But volunteering for this thing was as close as I’ll probably get to being in Hatzolah. I’m too squeamish to actually be part of their organization. If I were in Hatzolah, they’d have to load me into the ambulance with the patient. Or, if there weren’t room, they’d have the patient drive my car to the hospital. I’d be the only Hatzolah guy to do the procedures with his eyes closed.

But that was kind of the point of the training—so they could do these procedures with their eyes closed. In Hatzolah, you have to memorize these techniques so that they’re second nature, and you can do them without thinking. You don’t want to be standing there in the emergency with the patient screaming and me fainting and you trying to recall something you read six years ago for the EMT test.

And thanks to the training, I also learned how to be a patient. For example, I know to wear comfortable clothes.

“Wear comfortable clothes,” the guy told me beforehand. Like patients get to pick. Whenever you call Hatzolah, they’re like, “We’ll be right there. Wear comfortable clothes.” If you don’t have any, the hospital will provide you with a comfortable cloth that opens in the back.

The reason they wanted me to wear comfortable clothes is that they’d spend most of the session tying me up. Most of the training was about how to immobilize patients, using things like slings and splints and neck thingies (this is the technical term) and backboards and medieval torture devices. They were very into immobilization, like every patient is constantly trying to escape. Or maybe they need to immobilize you so you don’t go around touching all the stuff in the ambulance. Also, if you’re immobilized, you’re usually not thinking about your injuries. You’re thinking about how various things itch.

They also had to practice wrapping patients who were still in their cars. Cars are the most complicated scenario, because it’s like the most confined space you ever have to deal with, as far as how many Hatzolah members can fit in there with the patient.

But before I got into the car, I got to meet the dummy. It turns out that the local Hatzolah does own one practice dummy, which is the most battle-worn dummy I have ever seen in my life. Its chest is caved in, it’s three different colors and it looks like, at some point, it might have been on fire. It also has no hair, no forearms, and only one leg, with, for some reason, a shoe that is in better condition than the actual dummy.

So yeah, they did have a dummy, but apparently, they needed volunteers anyway, because there was no way they could practice arm splints on him, unless they found his arm.

So the scenario they practiced was this: I was in the passenger seat of the minivan, and the dummy, who had supposedly been driving the van, was on the ground next to it, because that’s where they’d dropped him before the training session, and he was very heavy. The idea was that they’d rescue the dummy first, and then get to me. I wasn’t a priority, because he was in much worse shape, clearly.

But I didn’t wait in the car to be rescued. It was hot in there. So I came out and offered to help load the dummy, because I felt bad. You don’t make other people carry things while you just sit there. But they didn’t really let me help, because apparently this is against Hatzolah bylaws.

Once they loaded the dummy into the ambulance, I got back into the car so they could rescue me.

Then they pulled me out of the car, sideways, onto a stretcher, and told me I was heavier than the dummy. They had to lift on “three.”

And that was the other point of the retraining. They had to practice working together. Because when you and a bunch of friends carry a person out of a car or an apartment, it’s not like carrying a couch down a flight of stairs.

“Let’s hold it sideways and see if we can get it through.”

“Do you have your end? I don’t have my end.”

After that, I’m not entirely sure what happened. The sun was in my eyes, so they put my yarmulke over my face. I think that’s what the Hatzolah manual says to do. (I don’t know what the goyishe EMTs do. Maybe they use a trivet.) But the next thing I knew, they’d loaded me into the ambulance next to that creepy dummy. Whom they’d decided to immobilize, because apparently, he creeps them out too.

I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

By Mordechai Schmutter


Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He also has six books out and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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