Memphis NCSYer’s Quick Thinking Saves a Life

12 Oct 2012


Seth Goldstein, a Midwest NCSYer, may have finished last, but he won the real race.

Halfway through the second loop of a regional cross-country race in September, Memphis teenager Seth Goldstein saw another runner fall to the ground.

“His lips were blue and his eyes just rolled to the back of his head,” said Seth, 17, who immediately ran over to the teen. “The first thing I thought was he wasn’t breathing.”

Goldstein, a student at the Cooper Yeshiva High School in Memphis, quickly checked for a pulse and yelled to an official to call 911. Seconds later the runner had a full seizure and bit his tongue. Seth, who is a lifeguard, turned the runner over so he wouldn’t choke. Using his first-aid training, Goldstein removed the runner’s shoes and shirt and iced him down. Eventually, the injured runner regained consciousness. After paramedics arrived, Seth asked if he could finish the race.

“They looked at me kind of funny,” Goldstein explained. “They’re like, ‘You’re racing? Well, I guess you can finish the race.’”

Seth managed to finish in 32 minutes, his slowest time, but he was joined by his teammates for the final hundred meters and received a special mention during the award ceremony. The injured runner suffered a heat stroke but recovered fully.

“I felt like the chunky kid who couldn’t finish the race,” Goldstein said with a laugh.

As a lifeguard, Seth has had his share of close calls at the swimming pool. But what frightened him more than anything else was the lack of response from the other runners.

“The scariest part of the whole thing wasn’t his lips turning blue or his eyes rolling, it was that there were five kids between me and him and those kids kept on running,” Goldstein explained. “And when I was tending to him there were kids that kept running. What would have happened if I was the one who fell? Would someone have helped me?”

Goldstein attributes his motivation to help others to the time he spends in yeshiva and NCSY | Jewish Youth Leadership, the Orthodox Union’s international youth movement.

“The other runners that went to public school, they don’t learn what I do in yeshiva and they don’t experience what I experience in NCSY,” Seth Goldstein said. “I’m positive that the stuff I’ve learned and the experiences I’ve had in NCSY with my friends affected my decision to stop… Over time, the lessons just burned a spot in my brain. You help each other that’s what you do.”

Goldstein’s split-second decision to help his fellow runner wasn’t a surprise for Rabbi Marc Lennon, Memphis NCSY Chapter Director.

“Seth is both the life of the party yet knows when and how to quietly address the needs of others at a moment’s notice,” said Rabbi Lennon. “He cares deeply about people and his loyalty to his heritage is an inspiration to teens and adults alike.”

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