God is so amazing. I love his attention to tiny details and the way his blessings sometimes (many times) just catch you off guard and wow you. Like really wow you.
I got a text from my friend Shalla (our pastor‘s wife) Friday night. “Rich, the kids, and I are taking lunch to the firemen that came out for the fall festival tomorrow, just as a thank you. Thought of you guys and thought you might like to join us if you’re not busy.”
Absolutely, I told her. The Fall Festival, if you’ll remember, is where Gabe had his heart attack. These firemen came to judge our Chili Cook-Off and show off their fire engine to our kiddos. And then they came back 30 minutes after they left when they got a call that someone (Gabe) was having trouble breathing. While the ambulance whisked Gabe away, the firetruck escorted Harlan and me to the hospital.
So, Saturday morning at 11:30, we meet Rich, Shalla, and their 4 little ones at the fire station, Ladder/Engine 24. Rich and Shalla have their arms full of Jersey Mike’s subs, potato chips, and children. I’m carrying a little thank-you note.
We meet three of the guys in the kitchen, Rich explains who we are (he’d arranged the lunch drop-off ahead of time) and who Gabe is, and then one of the guys asks the kids if they want to climb on the firetruck. Campbell is just climbing down when the alarm sounds, we rush out of the way, and they zoom off to save someone’s life. (Or a false alarm, whatever.) The 11 of us (me, Gabe, Rich, Shalla, our 7 kids) all gather in a circle and pray for the people they’re going to help.
They’re back in less than 10 minutes (we were just hanging around, waiting for them, not sure why). The two firetrucks pull in + the ambulance (that took Gabe to the hospital). And wouldn’t you know it? The two guys that attended to him that night were on duty. And thrilled to see him.
We got to talk to them for 20-30 minutes, and I can’t tell you what an incredible experience it was for us. To be able to thank them for saving my husband’s life. To hear the story from their perspective. To get to tell them what happened after they left the scene.
They kept thanking us for coming. Um, backwards. “It’s not very often we get to hear from someone we helped,” they said. The one guy said that he kept Gabe’s EKG print-out (and cut off the identifying information) and shows it to classes that he teaches, so they can see what it looks like when a 34-year-old has a heart attack.
He said he knew as soon as Gabe got in the ambulance that he was having a heart attack, but he didn’t tell him, because he didn’t want to scare him. Good call. They did the EKG to make sure, which saved them time when they got to the hospital. The doctor and his staff had already been called (away from the Ohio State game–bad time to have a heart attack in our fair city), so they were there soon after Gabe got wheeled in (you can read this part of the story from my perspective here–not my most favorite moment).
They had told us at the hospital that there’s a 90-minute golden window from when you have a heart attack to when you get your arteries unblocked. If it takes much more time than that, your life is in grave danger. If you survive, it’s probably with no small amount of irreversible heart damage.
The EMT told us that from the time the squad got to Gabe to the time he got his heart catheterization was 77 minutes.
They joked that they had just sat down to some homemade pizza in the kitchen when they got the call. “I had only taken one bite,” Bob said. “We’re used to getting our meals interrupted.” But unlike “the 23-year-old with a toothache who dialed 9-1-1 the other day,” Gabe was “worth the re-heat.”
Worth the Re-Heat. I feel like we should get t-shirts made.
T-shirt or no, Gabe’s not going to live that one down. I can’t stop saying it and smiling. Dude, you are so worth the re-heat.
We learned all about their jobs and what they do, their families, their 24-hours-on-48-hours-off schedule, how long they’ve been paramedics/firefighters, the fact that they’re the busiest station in the whole city. They asked us to stay in touch and come back anytime.
When it was time to go, Rich asked if we could pray for them. They said they could use all the prayers they can get, so we all got in a big circle and thanked God for Bob and Dan and for their part in saving Gabe’s life.
I looked at my daughters, my husband, that ambulance, those guys, and just breathed deep and thanked Jesus.
It was a sacred moment. One I’ll not soon forget.