(United Hatzalah)
United Hatzalah

Without any medical gear on hand, an EMT made a tourniquet from his tzitzit to save a victim’s life.

By Pesach Benson, United with Israel

A quick-thinking United Hatzalah Emergency Medical Technician saved a woman’s life by using his tzitzit strings as a tourniquet on Thursday.

Tzitzit refers to the strings attached to a four-cornered garment worn by observant Jewish men.

Shalom Klein, an EMT, was at a bus stop with his wife and seven-month-old son on Jerusalem’s busy Shamgar St. when an Egged bus that had arrived from Bnei Brak careened out of control and crashed into their bus stop.

The Kleins were miraculously unharmed. Shalom escorted his wife and son to a safer spot across the street and then dashed back to the crash scene.

“I told my wife to stay here and that I had to go back and help. I didn’t know what the state of those injured in the crash were, but I knew I had to help,” Shalom recounted. “I didn’t have time to worry about getting medical equipment, I just ran.”

Shalom first saw a mother and daughter lying on the ground but found they were already beyond saving.

“It was painful to admit, but the mother and child were already deceased and I couldn’t help them. I found a young woman with severe injuries to both of her legs. I took off my tzitzit and I tied them around one of her legs as a tourniquet, stemming the blood flow. Another United Hatzalah volunteer EMT arrived and tied a tourniquet on her other leg.”

Klein later learned from the young woman’s family that she had lost consciousness in the ambulance but was showing signs of recovery in the hospital.

“The woman’s relative told me that she was beginning to recover – and the doctors attributed the fact that she was alive to the tourniquets that were put on her legs,” Klein said.

“I never thought my tzitzit would save someone’s life, but on Thursday, they did. I am glad that my family is safe. It was an absolute miracle that we weren’t hurt ourselves. The bus careened into the people gathered at the bus stop and it hit people right and left,” he said.

“I believe that I was spared so that I could save this young woman’s life. I was in the right place at the right time to help. I used what I had on me and I improvised just like we are taught in training. Today that lesson saved a life.”

Three people were killed and nine injured in the crash. According to Hebrew media reports, the driver of the Route 402 bus — an 18-year Egged veteran — told police he inadvertently triggered the release of the brakes while trying to fix a malfunction.

With more than 6,200 volunteers nation wide, United Hatzalah is Israel’s largest independent volunteer emergency medical service.

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