With a Life Hanging in the Balance


With a Life Hanging in the Balance

The construction worker lay where he had fallen, precariously balanced on a plank nine inches (23 cm) wide and 100 feet (30 m) in the air. He had been struck by a falling steel beam that had partially severed his left arm and leg.

As a paramedic attached to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance, covering most of the north of England, I never know what the next emergency call will bring or what kind of situation we will face when we get to the scene.

In this case, the victim could not be moved safely until his injuries were assessed. I was hoisted up by crane on a metal cargo platform. Once I reached the victim, a construction worker held onto the back of my reflective jacket, serving as a human “crane” to allow me freedom of movement to examine the victim.

In situations like this, years of training take over, so I began to assess the man’s injuries. On his knee was an emergency field dressing placed there by the construction crew’s own first aid responder. Normally I would examine the injury to assess the damage since that is the protocol we are trained to follow.

But as I reached out, the Spirit prompted me: “Do not move the dressing.” So I did not touch it. Three more times during the incident, I was encouraged by others involved—the first responder, my colleague on the ground, and a doctor—to examine the knee wound, and three more times, the Spirit prompted me not to touch the dressing. Once we had stabilized the patient, we lifted the man onto the cargo platform, we were both lowered to the ground, and we transported him to the hospital.

In the emergency resuscitation area, the trauma team waited for us. One doctor quickly removed the field dressing from the knee. Immediately an artery ruptured, and the patient began bleeding profusely. In the controlled environment of the hospital, this life-threatening situation was quickly resolved. If it had happened on the plank 100 feet up, the victim may well not have survived.

Every morning I pray and ask Heavenly Father to help me, to bless me with the inspiration to know how to best help my brothers and sisters who will be in need today. Over the years, experience has taught me that whatever the Spirit prompts me to do, be obedient. That obedience has protected me as well.

For example, one of my responsibilities is to act as navigator, guiding the helicopter pilot to the incident scene. Emergency helicopters can and do fly most anywhere, which makes them invaluable for reaching accident scenes quickly but it also makes them vulnerable. When we are flying at more than 140 miles (225 km) per hour, power cables and telephone wires can be practically invisible. And they can slice through a helicopter in an instant.

On one trip we were coming in to land in a most awkward place. Suddenly the Spirit told me, “Put the clipboard down!” Again almost immediately, I felt, “Put it down!” So I leaned forward to place my clipboard on the case by my knees. As I did so, my point of view altered, and I saw the power cable right below us. “Wires! Wires! Wires below!” was all I could say. And even though we actually touched the cable and caused it to bow, the pilot responded instantly, and we lifted away and were saved. That was the closest to disaster I have come. Without the Spirit’s prompting, that emergency call would have had a very different ending.

I am so grateful for the loving way Heavenly Father is aware of all our needs. The Lord is always watching over us. He wants us all to remain spiritually safe and to return home to Him, so He often speaks to us by the still, small voice of the Spirit. All we have to do is listen and obey.

Without the Spirit’s prompting, that emergency call would have had a very different ending.

Right: illustration by Gregg Thorkelson