“When I first saw him, he was unconscious, and there was a lot of blood on his face and chest,” recalled Yair Schussheim, a Magen David Adom paramedic, upon first seeing Yarin, an Israeli soldier.
“I did not think he would survive.”
Yarin was on patrol on Highway 60 in Israel when a terrorist struck him with a car. He suffered broken bones, head injuries causing brain damage, and extensive internal bleeding. His leg was nearly severed.
There would have been no chance for this young soldier unless one of the most seasoned and well-trained paramedics in the world arrived within moments. Thankfully, that is exactly what happened.
Yair Schussheim wasted no time on guesswork and loaded the young man into a Mobile Intensive Care Unit ambulance — essentially an emergency room on wheels — and sped toward the nearest trauma hospital.
“I told the ambulance driver, ‘Floor the gas! Don’t stop!’”
Yarin’s throat was full of blood, and he struggled for air. Immediately Schussheim and his team ventilated him and opened two IV lines. It was clear to Schussheim that this young man’s life was hanging in the balance. Every intervention and every bit of his experience was brought to bear to keep him alive until he could be transferred to a trauma team. It was a moment-by-moment battle for survival.
Schussheim called the hospital on the way so they would be prepared. He explained the situation, the horrific incident, wounds, and everything he was doing to keep Yarin alive. He wanted the surgeons and trauma teams at the ER to be as ready as possible the moment they arrived. But in the paramedic’s heart, he fought back the unthinkable: He’s not going to survive.
This young man who had been walking, talking, and defending Israel just minutes earlier was teetering on the brink of death. Schussheim continued employing every intervention possible as he fought for Yarin’s life.
Yair Schussheim’s training equipped him to meet this crisis moment.
In Israel, emergency medical technicians begin with 200 hours of training to save lives. But as a paramedic, Yair received nearly 10 times as much training. More specifically, he was trained to handle the worst-of-the-worst of all medical emergencies that can occur in the field. It is as if he was trained and handpicked for this moment. It is the support of friends like you that make this training possible.
The minutes felt like hours as Schussheim focused all he had ever learned to keep this young soldier alive. And he did.
Finally, they arrived at the hospital, and the responsibility for Yarin’s fate passed to the hands of the doctors.
Dr. Miklosh Bala, a trauma surgeon at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, credits Yair’s decision-making as the key to the soldier’s survival. According to Dr. Bala, had Yair waited even minutes more, Yarin likely would have died.
Yarin himself was shocked at the outcome.
“I woke up in the hospital, and I had no idea how I am alive.”
His mother, Riki, was overcome with grief at seeing her son. “I asked the entire nation of Israel to pray.” But her cries of despair turned to tears of joy as Yarin began to slowly recover.
“He woke up against all odds. Thank God. And he was able to speak.”
Yair visited Yarin after he gained consciousness. “I saw him and told him, ‘Now is the beginning of your new life; don’t give up.’”
Yarin took his rescuer’s words to heart.
While waking, speaking, and breathing on his own were the first miracles, next came standing on his own. So terrible were his injuries that he struggled to stay up on his own two feet.
Yarin went to therapy every day, pushing through the pain and the failure. But he would not give up, even after falling and falling and falling again. His remarkable resilience was eventually rewarded when, one day, he spurred himself on with powerful words of resolve and determination:
“No! Enough! I must stand!”
Yarin endured months of grueling rehabilitation, and six months after the attack, he was almost fully recovered and able to attend a ceremony honoring the lifesaving paramedic.
“A lot of patients do not survive those kinds of terrorist acts,” Schussheim said.
“But he just didn’t give up; that’s all.”
For Yarin, it was the least he could do for a man who he now considers family. “Yair is not just the paramedic who saved my life,” he said. “He is like my brother. I did not expect a connection like this.”
The training Israel’s paramedics receive often means the difference between life and death. Of Magen David Adom’s corps of about 30,000 EMTs and volunteers, about 1,000 are paramedics.
This elite group of frontline medical professionals undergoes more than 1,500 hours of rigorous training to care for those on the verge of life and death.
There are many willing to devote their lives to this calling, but they CANNOT serve without the proper training and medical supplies.
Your support can make that possible. Every trained and equipped paramedic can save thousands of lives over many years of service.
Almost all that Magen David Adom does in Israel, from being responsible for the nation’s emergency services and blood supply to training its paramedics is made possible by generous donations from individuals who love Israel, just like you.
As the most skilled medical professionals in the field, Magen David Adom paramedics work tirelessly, day in and day out, to answer the calls for help and save victims of the most horrific terror attacks, accidents, and emergencies.
Many share the same perspective as Yair Schussheim. “People come into the world to some purpose, and my purpose is to help someone,” he said. “This is our destiny.”
While many have praised Yair’s fast and lifesaving actions, he is quick to deflect the praise.
“Yarin taught me that everything is possible because he is a miracle.”
You can be a part of a miracle in Israel today when you give to support the lifesaving work of Magen David Adom. Your support makes it possible to equip, train, and dispatch paramedics in Israel every time there is a crisis.
MAGEN DAVID ADOM, Israel’s national Red Cross society, provides emergency medical care and ambulance services for victims of terror, natural disasters, automobile accidents, and other emergencies in Israel. It is also responsible for the nation’s blood supply. MAGEN DAVID ADOM is saving lives in Israel every day.