"Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
A Second Chance
I caught myself smiling. The scene looked perfectly serene. A group of old men sat together in a wide circle on the front porch rocking quietly. Their aged faces reflected serenity. Not a care in the world. I stepped onto the porch and cleared my throat. No one spoke or greeted me. They hardly seemed to notice me.
“Excuse me,” I said feeling somewhat confused, quite certain that my EMS uniform would have been enough to announce the purpose of my visit. “Did you gentlemen call 9-1-1?”
“Sure, sure,” one of the men responded. “We did.”
“Well—” I glanced at him and chuckled. “What can we do for you?”
“I think Harold’s dead,” he said pointing across the porch. “He stopped breathing five minutes ago.”
I set down my equipment and walked over for a closer look. Sure enough, a gray-haired man sat in one of the chairs between two fellow rockers his head slumped against one shoulder as if he were asleep. I saw no sign of life, no movement at all. I touched his neck and felt for a pulse.
“Uh, Andy?” I glanced at my partner, Andy Strader. “I believe he’s right.”
Andy set down the defibrillator unit and pushed the power button. I grabbed the old man by the arms, slid him to the floor and ripped open the front of his shirt. Buttons flew. Fabric tore. Andy handed me the defibrillator paddles. I placed them on his chest and glanced at the monitor. A squiggly green line traced across the screen.
“Okay,” I murmured. “We’ve got V-Fib. We can handle that.”
Andy switched the unit to DEFIB and pushed the charge button. The unit began to whine. The low-toned whistle built quickly into a high-pitched shrill.
“Okay,” Andy said the capacitor was fully charged. “Light him up.”
“Here goes. Clear!”
Andy backed away. I straightened my arms, pushed the paddles firmly against Harold’s bony chest, and delivered the shock. Two hundred watt-seconds of electricity discharged into the old man’s body. His back arched. His muscles jerked. And then suddenly, to my amazement, he opened his eyes. He looked about briefly as if trying to gain his bearings, and then turned and gazed at me.
“Who are you?”
“Sir,” I said trying to hide my astonishment. “I’m a paramedic.”
“What are you doing?”
“You were dead, Harold,” one of the old men shouted. “These boys saved your life.”
“They did? Well, I’ll be.” Harold sat up and rubbed his chin. “Thank you fellas. Looks like you’ve given me a second chance.”
***It’s a true story. Harold died that cool autumn morning—his heart stopped beating and his breathing ceased—but only for a little while. Apparently God wasn’t finished with him. He sent us. And by the delivery of a single shock of electricity He gave Harold a second shot at life. What Harold did with the rest would be up to him.
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life.” He gave you a second chance too. It’s called eternal life. And just like Harold, what you do with that is up to you. But I wouldn’t wait too long in making that decision.
Harold got another chance. Will you?
Pat Patterson is a novelist, a paramedic, and an instructor of Emergency Medical Science. His stories are true, based on real experiences from the streets of Durham, North Carolina where he has served as a paramedic since 1992.