Only yesterday did I find out just how close I came that afternoon to kicking the bucket. I found out who my rescuers were and was able to piece together the rest of the story.
A man named Casey was driving along the street with his sister and young son, when he saw a man leaning on the post and then collapsing face-first. Thanks to his quick reactions, he found a spot to turn off the street beside me (the only spot available on this busy street) and told his sister to call 911. I had vomited, he said, and was having trouble breathing. We both remember that I said “bee sting”. Casey stayed with me till the firemen arrived. Fortunately, the nearest fire station was only blocks away.
After what seemed like just an hour or so, the nurse said I could be released. I noticed it was dark outside. To my surprise, almost five hours had passed. I found myself shirtless with adhesive pads on my chest and arms. When one of my nephews arrived to drive me home, the nurse provided a temporary paper shirt to wear. I was now fully conscious, but still tired; at home I slept some more. The next day everything was perfectly normal.
Returning the next day, I rang again. Captain Gabe, hearing my purpose for coming, was glad and said that yes, they guys were all here. He took me back to their break room and I met the whole squadron. Holding back tears, I told them all “Thank you; you guys saved my life.”
Firefighters and rescue people rarely get closure on the lifesaving work they do on a daily basis. Needless to say, they were glad to see me looking strong and well. After some bear hugs and handshakes, they told me more about what had happened. One of them said it was one of the most severe cases of anaphylactic shock he had ever seen. I got details and names, promising to write the Fire Chief to commend them for their great work. I may also send the story to the local paper. As with anyone who protects the public, in the military, police, firefighters and paramedics, we owe them a sincere “thank you for your service.”
As I left, I learned the names of the paramedics, and also obtained the phone number from the 911 roster that allowed me to reach Casey. He was glad to hear the rest of the story; he said he had been telling friends about it all week, but didn't know what happened after the ambulance left. I also stopped in at Station 107; Tom the paramedic was there. When I thanked him, his face lit up like the others, glad that his “routine” work had made a difference. I gave him a bear hug and encouraged him to keep saving lives.
We often don’t realize how tenuous our grip is on life. Last month there were news stories circulating about a man struck and killed by a meteorite from space. We all know death is coming, of course; the news is filled every day with tragedies both natural and human-caused. Many of us, however, act as if we have plenty of time till our day comes. The Apostle James reminds us that our life is like a vapor that appears for a moment then vanishes away. We shouldn’t boast about our plans, but rather begin each day with, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that” (James 4:13-17).
My dad was one-of-a-kind. He always put his heart and soul into everything he did. One of his hobbies was music and songwriting. The words to one of his songs came back into my mind after this incident; it expresses what drove him to work so hard for many years. I share it as an exhortation to each of us to invest each breath for the kingdom of God.
Make every moment count before it’s gone.
Each individual has work to do;
No substitution—there’s no other you.