Seventeen year-old Rivka Shotkin is an adorable, vivacious, extroverted, typical teenager. Except she’s anything but typical. She’s paralyzed from the chest down following a horrific ski accident that left her paraplegic two years ago. Yet, even so, she lights up any room she rolls into.
As a travel enthusiast, going on trips has posed somewhat of a challenge since Rivka became wheelchair bound. Not one to quit, she planned an action-packed trip down to Panama with her sister and two friends.
After a lot of aggravation with their initial lodging, they had finally settled into the hotel room to discover the AC was broken. While the three girls peeled off their layers to try and get some relief from the heat, Rivka piled on sweaters. She was shivering and burning up with high fever.
After being rushed to the hospital, it was discovered that Rivka was suffering from a bout of pneumonia. Things went from bad to worse and her condition quickly deteriorated. Rivka ended up in the ICU of a Central American hospital with her lung becoming septic.
Hatzolah Air was contacted on Erev Tisha B’Av to rescue her from the hospital she was in and to transport her to Miami, Florida for emergency treatment.
At Hatzolah Air, we fly missions 365 days a year. Tisha B’Av was no exception. Upon hearing Mr. Shotkin and crew were coming to the hangar, Mendel Sorkin, HA’s Facilities Coordinator, prepared a plentiful and delicious spread for the crew to feast on, in preparation for the fast, as they waited for the plane. (The crew even got to take hard boiled eggs and ashes to go!) Aboard the flight down to Panama, the crew along with Mr. Shotkin, said Kinnos at 36,000 feet in the air (see picture), while seated on the floor of the aircraft.
Once down in Panama, with the incredible help of Panama Hatzalah, Rivka was transported from the hospital to the tarmac where the plane and crew eagerly awaited her arrival. With tremendous Siyata D’shamaya, and with our medical crew led by veteran paramedic Simcha Goldstein, Rivka was transported via Hatzolah Air smoothly to Miami, where she received excellent treatment and was well on her way to recovery within a week.