OTS is proud of commando paramedic Z., a graduate of Neveh Shmuel Yeshiva High School, for the brave, split-second decisions he made during a shootout near Jenin which ultimately saved the lives of the unit’s company commander and radioman (read the story, below). Neveh Shmuel’s principal, Chezi Zecharia commended Z., calling him an “exceptional young man” and praising his ability to “keep a cool head while under fire and to think out of the box in such an unconventional, life-saving manner.” While the decision to enable students like Z. to volunteer for Magen David Adom during high school is not always an easy one, in this case it was certainly worthwhile.
“A courageous decision under fire”: Paramedic didn’t intubate fellow Duvdevan unit soldier – and saved his life
The decision “not by the book”; the vest that stopped some of the bullets; the last-minute decision to use a different landing pad; and the units of blood given in the helicopter: That’s how Z., the Duvdevan paramedic, Shoham, the brigade medical officer and D., the paramedic of the 669 rescue unit saved the lives of the seriously injured soldier and officer near Jenin. A senior IDF officer to Ynet: “We reported to the chief of staff that if not for the decision Z. made – we would be on our way to the funerals. This is a flagship event on a national level.”
By Yoav Zitun, Ynet Military Correspondent | 27 September, 2021
The dramatic decision paramedic Z. made under fire that saved the lives of the soldier and officer: The IDF is considering awarding Z., the elite Duvdevan counter-terrorism unit paramedic, a special citation after he provided innovative, lifesaving treatment to the company commander and his signal operator, who were critically injured during a clash with a Hamas terrorist in the village of Bruqin near Jenin.
Sgt. Z, 21, is one of two of the elite commando unit’s paramedics and was right next to the force that was hit by the firepower in the shootout, in real time. Within seconds, he began treating both of the wounded troops, who suffered massive blood loss as a results of 2-3 severe bullet wounds to the torso. Some of the bullets apparently came from friendly fire, due to the close range of the fighting and the darkness, in the yard of the terrorist’s home, the scene of the shootout. From details revealed first by Ynet, it has been learned that the ceramic plates in the two soldiers’ vests stopped some of the bullets, which were fired from a range of just a few meters. The remaining bullets and shrapnel that injured the two soldiers penetrated from the side or hit the face of one of the soldiers.
Z. immediately realized that both soldiers were severely bleeding as a result of their wounds. Upon their arrival at Rambam Hospital in Haifa, the doctors saw that they had lost at least half of their blood volume and were in a state of severe trauma. Z. had provided them with freeze-dried plasma mixed with water, turning it into a blood unit, as well as TXA or Tranexamic acid to stabilize the patients by coagulating the blood, but refrained at this point from administering the third stage of treatment for one of the soldiers, Y.
“By the book, paramedic T. was supposed to intubate the soldier, just as he did with the officer, but he made a courageous decision not to intubate Y. after noticing that the bleeding from his jaw and pelvic area had led to very low blood pressure. Intubation in this case can cause intense pressure on the lungs and actually make the situation worse, with less blood pumped back into the arteries,” explained a senior officer in the IDF Medical Corps this morning (Tuesday).
“Just six months ago, we revised the medical protocol on this subject in the IDF, so that intubation is no longer mandated as the third stage in the treatment of trauma or when the injured individual is semi-conscious and is lying on the ground,” added the senior officer. “According to most civilian protocols, Z. was supposed to intubate Y. as well, but that would have led to the soldier’s death. The decision he made was huge and was precedent-setting as far as we are concerned, and we will recommend that the civilian care protocols be changed too. Z basically departed from the rulebook when he made that decision under fire and in the middle of the night – and by doing so saved that soldiers’ life.”
But there was more to the life-saving treatment given to the two soldiers by the young paramedic. Within minutes, Z. made sure to insert a needle into the two wounded soldiers’ lungs to enable them to receive oxygen – and evacuated them in the military ambulance of the Menashe territorial brigade, where Alyssa, the brigade paramedic, and Capt. Shoham, the brigade medical officer, were waiting to help. Capt. Shoham provided the wounded officer and soldier with plasma units.
Shoham, the medical officer, realized that the Air Force medivac helicopter was still on its way and that the precious time ticking away was becoming critical for the two seriously wounded soldiers. That’s why she decided not to wait for the helicopter to land at the landing pad nearby where the evacuation had been scheduled, and ordered the military ambulance driver to race ahead to the next landing pad, located closer to Haifa. In doing so, the brigade medical officer saved precious minutes of evacuation time to hospital for the critically wounded soldiers.
“Without the paramedic’s treatment and the decisions he made in the field – we would be on the way to the funerals”
The details of the initial investigation also show that the two soldiers continued to bleed internally, and D., a paramedic of the 669 rescue unit, who received the two wounded soldiers in the helicopter, performed a chest drain and gave them a full blood transfusion, rather than blood components, thus keeping them alive in optimal condition. The transfusion of blood components, which do not contain all the components of whole blood that their bodies needed, would not have been sufficient at this stage.
“In the emergency room, they were admitted with a blood pressure of 40-50, in very serious condition, and so it was clear that without all these treatments, these two soldiers would no longer be with us,” said the senior officer, adding, “The paramedics fought for their airways during the evacuation, and they arrived in the emergency room with a PH of 7.1, in other words, a very high level of acidity in the body, and that any other treatment – say the infusion of clear fluids that contain a solution of water and salts – would have put their lives at greater risk. As far as I’m concerned, this is a dramatic flagship event because of the life-saving treatment. We told the chief of staff that without the treatment that the paramedic provided in the field and the decisions he made – we would be on the way to their funerals.”
One of the two wounded soldiers is still in critical condition and both are expected to undergo further surgeries in the coming weeks. Nevertheless, military medical officers who learned the details of the case and are also familiar with the values and conduct of warriors in units of this kind did not rule out the possibility that after a full recovery, the two soldiers will return to serve in the unit.
Four of the five paramedics who met in the field and participated in the life-saving treatments, including the paramedic from the 669 rescue unit, were surprised to discover that they had all served together in the same class of the military paramedics course, a course into which only 40 applicants out of 1,400 are accepted.
Next week, IDF Chief Medical Officer Brigadier General Professor Alon Glazberg is scheduled to fly to an international medical conference in Atlanta, Georgia on the subject of treating trauma injuries. At the conference, he will present the life-saving findings drawn from the exceptional incident that occurred this week near Jenin to the international audience.
“There is nowhere else in the world that people injured to this degree would have received this treatment, and consequently, Z.’s performance is far from self-evident. The other paramedics also performed well and made life-saving decisions, and this happened after a year and a half when the entire system was focused mainly on dealing with corona,” added the officer.