As I shook hands with the gentleman in front of me, I keenly noted his firm hand grasp, wide smile, and clear Southern accent. While talking and laughing together, it was hard to believe this was the same man I'd seen just two weeks prior. Two weeks... My mind wandered back to that eventful day.
It was a gorgeous autumn morning at Fall Creek Falls. We had just finished our worship service during Apison SDA's annual church campout. As the weather slipped from crisp morning to blistering afternoon, I headed to my car to change into something more weather appropriate. My friend Jonathon Duman, who was still with his wife Elizabeth at the main campsite, happened to see cars stopping along the road that curved past and decided to investigate. Looking down over the hill he could see a bicyclist lying in the middle of the lane. "Someone must have hit him!" he immediately thought. He ran down to where a group of people were standing around the bike. "I'm an ER nurse, what can I do to help?" He took a quick visual note of the scene. The man lying on the pavement was ashen gray and struggling for breaths. He looked to be middle aged, decked out with pro biking gear complete with a helmet. His bicycle was lying close by. "We just drove up on him like this; man I'm so glad to see you!" one of the bystanders exclaimed. Jonathon quickly knelt down and felt for a pulse. Nothing. Immediately he pulled off the man's shirt and began CPR. His wife soon joined him as others pressed in to see what was going on. “1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5…” they counted rhythmically while continuing compressions. Five minutes pass, still no pulse. They continue compressions, praying with each stroke that their efforts would keep the blood moving. Somehow. Someway. Ten minutes seem like ten hours as the cycle continues, 100 compressions a minute, deep, constant. Jonathon tries not to think of the last time he performed CPR, just a couple days ago. As an ER nurse, codes are common but often don’t end well. “Please God, bring his heart back to life!” “1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 – 7…” “Can anybody else do compressions?” Elizabeth could feel her arms begin to weaken. Instantly people sprang forward from the crowd of onlookers. A retired ER nurse. Church members. An Erlanger nurse who happened to be driving by also jumped in to help keep the compressions going.
Meanwhile, church members at the campsite had a special prayer meeting. They knew how grave the situation was and interceded with God on his behalf. A siren pierced the organized chaos down on the road as a park ranger truck pulled up to the scene. Quickly he unloaded an AED and connected the pads. Everyone backed away as it methodically scanned the heart rhythm. “Shock advised. Stand clear of the patient,” the familiar words ordered. A powerful shock was administered and CPR was resumed. “His color is looking better,” someone remarked. Feeling for a pulse, Jonathon could feel a strong thumping in his carotid artery. “He’s got a pulse guys. He’s got a pulse!” After fifteen minutes of CPR and one AED shock, he now had a pulse and was beginning to breathe on his own. Another siren filled the air as the volunteer fire department arrived, quickly putting him on oxygen and starting an IV in his right arm. Minutes later the ambulance arrived and a quick report was given to the EMTs as they log rolled him onto the backboard. Driving him a few miles down the road, the ambulance met a LifeForce helicopter which airlifted him to Erlanger Heath System.
Fast forward two weeks. Having learned of his miraculous rescue through family and friends at the hospital, John and his wife Gale were finally able to track down the people who helped rescue him. They wanted to thank them in person. So here they were, visiting our church as alive and healthy as ever. I was in awe as we talked about how many circumstances played out so perfectly to make this miracle a reality. Having the heart attack right next to our campsite not only gave him close proximity to several nurses and doctors, but also a bicycle shop owner who was able to find contact info from the registration on the bike. There were several places he could have ridden in the state park where he’d have lain without medical aid for several minutes. Tears of thankfulness and joy were on every face as rescued and rescuers thanked God for His endless mercies and intervention.
P. S. I received express permission from John and Gale Blount before posting these pictures and story. I'm extremely proud of my friends for their heroic work but they want people to know it was a group effort with many people involved and ultimately God is responsible for this rescue.