On July 17, an elderly gentleman walked in from the heat to join us for our Sabbath prayer service at Congregation Sons of Israel in Allentown. While walking to his seat, he suddenly gasped and collapsed. We later discovered that he had gone into complete cardiac arrest –clinically speaking, he was dead.

   Fortunately, our congregation is blessed with a number of capable physicians and lay persons with cardiopulmonary resuscitation training who immediately came to his aid. Of equal importance was the fact that we have two very valuable pieces of equipment on our premises: An oxygen tank and an automated external defibrillator. Because of the quick action of our congregants and the paramedics — who came to the scene within five minutes of the 911 call –this congregant is now recuperating in the hospital and doing very well. According to the physicians and paramedics who attended to him, without the aid of the defibrillator this person would not be alive today.

   I am therefore writing for the following reasons:

   I would like to congratulate and thank the Allentown EMS Paramedics dispatched by our 911 call for coming to the scene so quickly. Their expertise and swiftness made this call have a happy outcome. After arriving at the hospital, one of the paramedics commented that he had an added degree of confidence, because while they were attending to the patient in the aisle of our sanctuary, the rest of us chanted the Sabbath prayers for our friend’s safe and speedy recovery.

   I would like to encourage anyone reading this to take a CPR course. I would especially like to encourage churches and synagogues to host a CPR course (people can contact their local chapter of the American Red Cross to make arrangements). It would be invaluable to a congregation, especially for situations like this. According to Dr. Alex Rosenau of the Emergency Medicine Institute of Lehigh Valley Hospital, the chances of a person administering CPR to a loved one at home are far greater than finding an emergency situation with a stranger at the mall, restaurant or market.

   I would like to encourage all public places of worship to procure an oxygen tank and an automated defibrillator. The cost is relatively nominal and the return on the investment is infinitely precious. Any places of worship that would like to know how to go about procuring this apparatus are welcome to contact me by e-mail and I will point them in the right direction.

   It was extremely gratifying to know that we made a difference between life and death for this congregant because we had the proper resources to deal with the situation. We are all very grateful to God and the talented individuals who helped this man. Attendance at Sabbath prayer services quite literally saved this man’s life! I hope that our experience will prompt other places of worship to be prepared should a similar emergency arise in the future.