Nov 25, 2009

Sometimes It’s Obvious

We were on our way to an interfacility call when traffic slowed to a stop. I just love people who pass you on the shoulder of the freeway just to get one car-length ahead of you. A couple of state troopers passed us with their lights on. The fire radio told us an engine and ladder were headed our way. We hailed dispatch and told them we would be delayed on the call as we approached the MVA. Being the closest unit, they sent us priority. The cat in the Camry, forcing his way through traffic wasn’t happy when we came up behind him. My partner resisted the urge to take him into the wall.

The black sedan was crushed, kissing the concrete wall on the bridge. Walking through the debris field I stepped around the tire lying on the road, which had been ripped off. I approached the car and asked the driver how she was. “I f***ing hurt all over!” Nice opening line…very classy. I introduced myself and asked her name. We extricated her and got her moving toward the hospital. On the way she continued cursing and making excuses for hitting the wall.

Our second patient was a middle-aged man who’d been having near-syncopal episodes for a couple weeks. He became dizzy and sweaty. When he got up he almost passed out. His heart rate was 36; his systolic pressure was around 100. No mystery here, he needed a trip to the cath lab. He told us one of the episodes happened while he was in church.

If you had to guess which patient I prayed for – who would you pick?

Patients can reveal things that are like an invitation to prayer. I look at bookshelves in people’s homes for bibles and spiritual reading materials. Many times you can tell the spiritual climate of a home by what is displayed on their walls. If a patient mentions going to church – there’s a good chance they’ll be receptive to prayer. During our transport of the man with bradycardia, I asked if I could pray with him. He was glad I asked and thanked me afterward. I was encouraged by the clue he gave about attending church.

What other clues are there that a patient may be open to prayer? Clothing and jewelry sometimes contain clues. During inter-facility transports you might look at the face sheet from the hospital. The Catholic hospitals in our area usually indicate a religious preference somewhere. It may help you make the decision. But don’t rely on it too much. I’ve had many patients allow me to pray with them – but they had NRP (no religious preference) on their face sheet.

Looking for clues can be helpful  – especially when you’re new to praying with patients. Don’t forget that God can give you all the information you need. It’s a good use of time and resources to spend a few minutes asking God what He has planned. He’ll never steer you wrong.