Paralyzed from the neck down and confined to his room in a rehabilitation center where he is on life-support, 39-year-old Israeli Alon Paz had a simple wish: He wanted to spend a day at the Dead Sea.
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Last week, a group of volunteers from United Hatzalah, the Jerusalem-based emergency medical services organization, helped it happen. Paz, who was critically injured in a car accident seven years ago in Netanya, spent the day at the botanical gardens of Kibbutz Ein Gedi and at the Wadi David national park, famous for its hiking trails, which are wheelchair accessible, and its waterfalls. To top off the visit, he was taken to a lookout point that provides a panoramic view of the Dead Sea.
Getting Paz out of the hospital and out into the desert presented considerable challenges, said Yehuda Attias, a volunteer paramedic at United Hatzalah, who organized the logistics of the trip. “We went to incredible lengths to make sure this trip took place safely, without any medical mishap,” he told Haaretz. “We are happy to have participated in fulfilling Alon’s long-time dream.”
Paz, who is able to speak, though with difficulty, had made his wish known to Yisrael Zeltas, a United Hatzalah volunteer who often visits him. The reason he was so drawn to the Dead Sea region, he told Zeltas, was because of it tranquility and magnificent views.
A native of Hod Hasharon, Paz has spent the years since his accident at Beit Rivkah, a rehabilitation center in Petach Tikvah. Not long ago, Attias said, he accompanied Paz on an emotional visit back to his old apartment building, where he met with friends and neighbors. Since his accident, Paz has become religious.
United Hatzalah operates a network of 2,500 volunteers around Israel.