The battle to save a life

When Sgt. Gailer saw a civilian injured in a road accident and fighting for his life, the IDF (Zahal) soldier wasted no time in treating the man, despite having had no medical training

Date: 28/06/2013, 12:32 PM     Author: Malka Grossman

On April 18, Sgt. Yigal Gailer was driving down the highway on his 18-month anniversary of enlisting in the IDF (Zahal). Suddenly he heard a loud crash and saw a man fly off his motorcycle and get thrown across the road. Sgt. Gailer, a 20-year-old soldier from the center of Israel, immediately pulled over and started to treat the injured motorcyclist, who was in a state of semi-consciousness.

Though he serves in the IDF (Zahal)’ Medical Corps, Sgt. Gailer is not a paramedic and had no advanced first-aid training. He is a producer of medical training videos for use in and out of the military. Sgt. Gailer had not taken any life-saving courses since he first enlisted, but had been through the same basic first aid course that all IDF (Zahal) soldiers are required to pass. However, from producing training videos, he knew what to do.

In order to maintain the soldier’s consciousness, Sgt. Gailer started singing to him while checking for injuries. When he noticed the man’s clothes were filled with blood, Sgt. Gailer almost fainted. “[The injured man] told me: ‘I’m getting married in a month and my wife is pregnant.’ I snapped back and remembered a bandage I had taken from my base,” Sgt. Gailer said. He patched him up but the bandage was not enough. Sgt. Gailer then ripped off a part of his uniform and made a tourniquet – a very tightly-wrapped bandage that cuts off heavy blood flow. Eventually, the ambulance arrived to take the injured man to hospital.

Following the accident, Sgt. Gailer called the hospital to find out the man’s condition.

“The doctor told me that without the tourniquet he would have died,” Sgt. Gailer said.

The battle to save a life

After his experience, Sgt. Gailer urges every soldier to take extra first aid courses. “Every second in that class means another second you can save a life. Pay attention and write things down so you know what to do,” he said.

“That’s how a regular non-combat soldier like me was able to save a person’s life.”

The incident has Sgt. Gailer now thinking of a future in medicine. Even the commander of his base has encouraged him to start the necessary training to become a paramedic in the IDF (Zahal).

The injured motorcyclist is still recovering in hospital, even after two months. He went through surgery a week ago.

“He said as soon as he gets out of the hospital, he wants to take me out to a restaurant and give me an award saying that I saved his life.” Though he added that knowing he saved the man’s life is reward enough.