Aviva Simchon, head nurse of the Internal Medicine Intensive Care Unit at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem, will not forget one particular visit to the supermarket near her home. In honor of International Nurses’ Day 2022, which is celebrated on May 12 this year, Aviva recalled her memory of the day she saved a life far from the hospital where she usually concentrates her energy on saving lives.
During a routine shopping at the Bitan wine supermarket in Beit Shemesh, while packing my groceries at the checkout, I suddenly saw a supermarket worker running fast, leaving a long trail of blood on the floor. Someone was running after him with a paper towel.
It took me a second to digest what I was seeing, and then I immediately ran to him, took the paper towel, and grabbed his hand.
The bleeding was massive. The worker had been cut by a knife in the butcher shop, and the impact was severe. I immediately put significant pressure on his hand and sat him down in the middle of the supermarket so he wouldn’t pass out. I realized that the amount of blood on the floor likely indicated arterial bleeding.
After applying pressure on the injured area for a few minutes, I removed the paper towel from the incision to see what was going on. Immediately, a jet of blood spewed from the artery. That’s when I realized that the bleeding was coming from the radial artery that delivers blood to the palm of the hand.
I continued to exert strong pressure on the artery to stop the bleeding. At that point, the injured man began to feel like he was losing consciousness, so I and others laid him down on the supermarket floor. Someone else came over to offer help, and I recognized that it was a student of mine from a first aid course that I had taught at Magen David Adom (MDA) 20 years ago. Together, we improvised a tourniquet from a clean floor rag, rubber gloves, and a towel, until the MDA could arrive with a real tourniquet.
MDA took him to Hadassah’s Intensive Care Unit.
Shortly afterwards, I called Hadassah to ask how he was doing. I was told he had a bilateral tear of the radial artery, a very significant injury. The Hadassah team was in the process of stitching it up. The orthopedist who treated him sent me a message with the words, “Thank you for the tourniquet.”
As soon as I had realized that it was an artery that had been cut, with a large amount of blood flowing, it was clear to me that the bleeding had to be stopped as quickly as possible so the man would not lose his limb or, G-d forbid, go into shock as a result of blood loss. The makeshift tourniquet did the job. Later, at Hadassah, the man was told that his hand had been saved.
In my work in the Intensive Care Unit at Hadassah, I am exposed to many emergencies. I have applied pressure to a radial artery many times to stop the bleeding. But it is much more dramatic and challenging when this becomes necessary outside of the hospital walls. My clothes and shoes were covered with blood, and, since I was in plain clothes and not my hospital uniform, all of my clothes went straight into the trash can. But it is the result that matters.
Ultimately, being a nurse is a choice of a way of life; it’s the essence of caring for and saving lives. You don’t know when an event will happen that will require all your experience and professional knowledge, but when it does, you are there 200 percent.
The day that this incident happened, I had been feeling very lazy and wasn’t sure about whether I wanted to go shopping. In the end, I am very glad that I went, and that I was in the right place at the right time.