Tuesday, August 26, 2008
The Most Powerful Warrior -- Pat Patterson
"Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." James 5:16
It’s my routine. Leave the house, drive north 2.5 miles, and then hang a left. The highway is long and straight, and for fifteen miles I’m alone with my thoughts. I use that time to think. And to pray. “Help me to be a good paramedic. Please don’t let me hurt anyone tonight. And, Lord, please help me to be a gentleman.”
I clocked in at 7:00 p.m. and right away the calls began. Tough calls. The kind that make me wonder why I still do this job? One patient lied to me, another one spit. A belligerent female cursed at me, blamed me for her plight in life and then outright accused me of racism. And the calls rolled on. I became exhausted, weary from the workload, frustrated by the onslaught of personal insults. But I handled myself well. Remained a gentleman.
Until 4:00 a.m…
I found the vehicle atop a grove of broken pines. Prickly vines tore at my skin as I climbed down the embankment and into her car. “Hello,” I said scanning her for major injuries. “My name’s Pat. What’s yours?”
She sat in the front seat screaming, “Get me out of here.”
“We will,” I said. “But tell me, are you breathing okay? Are you hurt?”
“Get me out!”
I ignored the verbal stabs and continued my assessment—trauma victims sometimes speak irrationally, say things they don’t mean—but I found no major injuries, no reason for her to be so rude.
I explained the situation to her as the firefighters approached the car. She continued to fuss as they pulled open her door, continued to gripe as we immobilized her and carried her up the hill.
Uncooperative and difficult she abused me the whole way to the hospital, pulling at her bindings and yelling for me to cut her loose. I tried to remain patient, continued trying to help. I even stabilized her on a particularly rough section of road—grabbed her belt and held on tight to keep her from rolling as the truck rocked side to side—but she turned it into something else.
“Don’t you do it,” she said her voice cold and threatening. “Don’t you do it!”
“Do it? Do what?” I said suddenly realizing her implication. “Are you serious? Are you accusing me of—”
I was shocked.
She opened her mouth and tried to speak, but I cut her off this time. I’d had enough!“Shut up!”
“I said, SHUT UP!”
And she did. She remained as passive as a lamb for the rest of the ride. But me? I marched into the ER angry as a hornet and left just as mad, a trail of verbal destruction in my wake. I got in trouble of course—the ER doc is still fuming.
Where did I go wrong? I prayed, didn’t I? I was only trying to help. What am I supposed to do when the whole world turns against me? Attacks me from every side? Well this morning something occurred to me—I need more than routine prayer. I need other Christians praying for me, true warriors who will lift me up every time I go to work.
So here’s a challenge: Call a friend. Ask them to pray for you. Promise to pray for them and do it. And always remember—the prayer of a righteous man is a powerful, effective weapon.
And do me a personal favor—please pray for me. Pray for my partner too. Tonight we go back out and face it all again. Ask God to help me to be a gentleman this time…regardless of what the night brings.
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.