One evening last month, the legendary CEO of Maccabi Haifa and Director of Sami Ofer Stadiums in Haifa, Lt. Col. (res.) Itamar Chizik went into cardiac arrest. He went unresponsive and due to his medial background, his wife Riki understood that he was having a cardiac event and immediately dialed MDA’s 101 Emergency Call Center.
Riki’s call was answered by MDA EMT and dispatcher Michal Zuriel, and immediately upon assessing that Itamar was in cardiac arrest, she directed Riki to begin CPR and get her next door neighbor to help her. The basic CPR efforts were administered in the first few critical moments until an MDA MICU arrived.
With the fight for Itamar’s life at it’s peak, and Michal guiding CPR over the phone, MDA’s MICU arrived. Paramedic Mark Kuzmenkov and Senior EMT Gavriel Cohen who arrived with the MICU continued providing Chizik with advanced CPR including electrical shocks from the AED. With CPR efforts still underway, and Chizik still clinically deceased, they transferred him to the MICU to evacuate him to the hospital. During the evacuation to the hospital, after several long minutes of fighting for his life, the fight was won and Itamar came back to life.
This week, at the annual holiday party in MDA’s Haifa station, Itamar Chizik met the people who saved his life. In an emotional meeting, MDA EMT and dispatcher Michal Zuriel and MDA Paramedic Mark Kuzmenkov were united with Chizik for the first time following the incident. Also in attendance were the Shaked family, Chizik’s neighbors who assisted in CPR. They also received certificates from Carmel Regional Manager Erez Geller.
Riki, Itamar’s wife, recalls: “An amazing voice answered my call to MDA’s 101 Emergency Call Center which captured my attention and guided me. MDA EMT Michal accompanied me and guided me the entire way and did not give up.”
Shai and Mariana Sheked, the neighbors who assisted Riki recalled: “We immediately ran to their apartment when Riki called us. We saw Itamar on the floor and it was terrifying. We followed Michal’s instructions and immediately began CPR. We had previously learned basic first aid and CPR, which really helped us. Having Michal on the line gave us a lot of confidence and calmed us. She even kept the pace of compressions for us.”
MDA Paramedic Mark Kuzmenkov recalls: “We were relatively close to the scene and we arrived quickly to Itamar. He had a severe arrhythmia, so we provided him with advanced CPR which included medications, electrical shocks, chest compressions and ventilations. Simultaneously, I consulted with a cardiolkogist at the hospital who prepared to receive Itamar and continue treating him. The chain of survival is critical and without it, we wouldn’t be able to save lives. I donnt want to think about what would have been if Itamar’s wife and neighbors hadn’t begun CPR prior to our arrival.
“The truth is that I feel as though they brought me down from Above. They pulled me back down. I was severely wounded in the War of Attrition, the Yom Kippur war, and I was at the Maxim restaurant during the bombing. However, this time I was closer than ever and they pulled me back. It is thanks to them, thanks to my wife who was next to me, that I am alive. It is these moments which cause a person to understand the meaning of life,” said Itamar.
MDA EMT and Dispatcher Michal Zuriel: “Itamar returning to life is not to be taken for granted. As a 101 Emergency Call taker, I see inctances of cardiac arrest on a daily basis, and understand how critical our guided CPR is. Itamar is an example of each moment being critical.”