Hatzolah founder saves dying woman’s life

January 5, 2010 by Henry Benjamin
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When the public address system at Melbourne’s Tiger Airways baggage area urgently called for a doctor, Ruvi Herzog immediately raced to offer help.

Ruvi Herzog

The 31-yr-old founder of the Melbourne branch of Hatzolah  found 56-yr-0ld Cherie Day collapsed on the airport terminal floor close to a baggage carousel. He told J-Wire: “Her heart had stopped beating and with the help of two others we immediately applied CPR and mouth to mouth.”

Herzog knew from his training that what they were doing was not going to save Cherie Day. He spotted a defribillator mounted on the terminal wall about 25 meters away and raced to get it. As he pulled it away from its housing, the unit sent out an automatic alarm call to ambulance and fire brigade units.

Herzog continued: “I had used defribillators before and the unit got her back to life again…but she slipped away from us. The machine is designed to let the user know the right time to defribillate and for an agonising few minutes, it was back to CPR and resuscitation. Then the unit signalled the time was right to let it do its work and  I started using it again. By the time the emergency units arrived, we had her breathing regularly.”

Herzog added: “All this was happening as my wife and five children sat patiently in the car park waiting for me to arrive with the baggage.”

Cherie Day and the Herzog family had been on the same Tiger Airways flight from Mackay.

Herzog said: “It is amazingly fateful. Ten minutes earlier we would have been helpless on the plane and ten minutes later she would have been helpless on the bus to Lethbridge.

After a week in the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Day met Herzog and the two others who had saved her life before heading home to Lethbridge, south-west of the Victorian capital. She called them “her angels”. She had made a complete recovery after surgeons had unblocked a heart valve.

Hatzolah’s mission statement is “to provide a professional high level of emergency care, to members of the Jewish community in a predefined area within an efficient timeframe”.

Ruvi Herzog, who works in the family car and boat business, retired from Hatzolah last year. He has used a defriballator on four previous occasions and this is the second time he has been instrumental in saving a dying person’s life. He said: “Seeing someone survive an experience like this when you have been privileged to help them sends shivers up your spine.

Cherie Day may not be Jewish, but Ruvi Herzog made sure that the Hatzolah statement was delivered in spades irrespective of race, creed or religion….

Defribillators in public areas are a relatively new initiative and this was the first time one had been used in the terminal. There are 24 units in place at Tullamarine airport.

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