For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. —Ephesians 2:8
Dispatcher: “Request for first aid at 12 Shady Grove Lane for a cardiac.”
Officer Jack Endicott met us at the front door.
“Eighty-two-year-old male with chest pain. You probably know him—it’s Luke Moore. He rates the pain ten out of ten, mid-sternal. It started about ten minutes ago. He’s on the second floor, in his bedroom.”
Brendan Bentley, Dillon, and I proceeded up a narrow flight of stairs to the second floor.
I recognized our patient right away. I knew Mr. Moore was close to one of my dad’s friends, and I was also used to seeing him around town. He was well-known for all the volunteer work he did in our community. “Hi, Mr. Moore,” I said, patting his shoulder.
“Mr. Moore, tell us what’s going on tonight,” Brendan said, fishing a blood pressure cuff out of our first aid kit.
“The pain hit me like a ton of bricks while I was climbing the stairs. It hurts right here,” Luke said, pointing to the center of his chest.
Mr. Moore looked extremely pale. I ran the back of my hand over his forehead; it felt cool and clammy.
Dillon took Mr. Moore’s blood pressure and pulse. “They’re both pretty low: 92 over 54 and 61,” he said. He printed out a sample of Mr. Moore’s heart rhythm from the heart monitor to give to the paramedics.
We assisted Mr. Moore onto our stair chair and Dillon and Brendan carried him downstairs.
Dillon hopped into the driver’s seat and Brendan and I climbed in the back of the rig. While the medics switched Luke over to their own heart monitor and started an IV line, Brendan filled them in on our patient’s condition.
“Nice and easy ride,” Brendan called up to Dillon. “We’re ready to go when you are.”
Mr. Moore settled back in the stretcher and smiled at me. “I feel a little better now. Perhaps I should have stayed home after all.”
“I’m glad you feel better, but you definitely made the right decision when you called us,” I said.
Mr. Moore grabbed my hand and squeezed it gently. “I know your father. He’s a nice gentleman.” And then he got a funny look on his face and said, “I’m starting to feel a little faint.”
Mr. Moore coded instantly; he lost his pulse and his eyes became glazed. He was clinically dead. I cannot believe this is happening!
Looking at the heart monitor, the medic yelled, “V-fib!”
I immediately gave two mouth-to-mouth rescue breaths followed by chest compressions while Brendan assembled the ambu bag. Normally, squad members avoid giving mouth-to-mouth respirations in order to decrease the possibility of germs and infection. However, since I knew Mr. Moore and did not want him to go even one second without oxygen, I acted instinctively. Please, stay with us, Mr. Moore!
The medic charged up his paddles and defibrillated at 200 joules. Mr. Moore’s body jerked in response. I held my breath. I didn’t have to hold it very long.
Almost instantly, by the grace of God, Mr. Moore took a few ragged breaths. His eyes opened wide and his arms flew up in the air. “What just happened?” he asked.
“You fainted and your heart briefly stopped beating,” Brendan explained. “We restarted it for you.”
“Wow—thank you. My chest pain is gone now,” Mr. Moore said. “Actually, I feel much better.”
Color began seeping back into his pale cheeks.
I said a silent prayer of thanks. Thank You, Jesus. Mr. Moore was going to be okay.
In the wee hours of the morning, Mr. Moore was admitted to the cardiac intensive care unit. Five days later, he transferred to the cardiac step-down unit. Two weeks later, he was back to volunteering at the Manna from Heaven Food Pantry!
Some twenty years later I was sitting on a park bench, watching my children play on the swings. I turned and suddenly realized there was a memorial plaque on the bench. I read it slowly: “In honor of Luke Moore, extraordinary community volunteer.” My face broke into a joyous smile.
And suddenly I felt like Mr. Moore was sitting next to me, enjoying a lovely day at the park.
Andrea Jo Rodgers shares more EMT stories in At Heaven's Edge.