Rescue in Eilat

In February 2009, Julia, a tourist from Toronto, took a long hike in the hot Eilat mountains. After hiking for a long time, she finished all her water and realized that she was lost.

Julia tried retracing her steps yet she couldn’t find her way back. She was exhausted as it was already noon by that point, the hottest time of day, and there was no shade in sight. She then decided to call for help. Julia climbed to a high point with cell reception and dialed a number for an emergency service. Fortunately, her phone connected her to the local police emergency hotline who then called Israel Coalition’s Search and Rescue Unit.

Once the unit managed to understand which river she was near and the general location, the dispatch center sent out two teams, one at each end of the river, to try and find her. One dispatch center member kept her on the line in order to not break contact with her. The team  determined she was dehydrated and probably suffering from a heat stroke and in danger. They soon noticed that she was slowly losing consciousness. As this became more apparent, the task suddenly became even more dire. If she were to lie down to rest on the hot floor, the heat emanated from the ground would increase her body temperature and would quickly kill her.

The dispatch member began talking to her loudly, begging her not to sit down. They engaged in conversation and he started to ask her about her family, which sports she played at home in Toronto and anything he could think of that would keep her awake. As the rescue teams were searching, the dispatch member was praying that her phone battery wouldn’t run out before she was found. Although the battery was lasting, the heat simply was too much for her. At first she sat down on a rock, then she laid down semi-conscious but continued mumbling on the phone.

The search teams were told that she was lying down and they knew the heat was rising rapidly in her body which meant the end was near. After the dispatch center could not hear her anymore on the phone, a long three and intense minutes passed. Suddenly, the radios alerted the dispatch center that they saw her and were almost near her.

The heads of the unit instructed the search and rescue volunteers to lift her up on their bags and to hold up a net around her to give her shade, before beginning to give her medical treatment. Finally, the rescuers were able to get her to the edge of the river, lower her temperature and finally transport her to a medical facility for hydration. Not only did she survive, but she was thankfully not affected by the incident.

Another life had been saved.