Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Bystander Syndrome

OK, so here is a really strange thing that happened to Freddy last night. To give a little background to the story, every Monday night Fred and I attend Mass at the local parish. There is a 7:30 novena mass and after the first day back at work for the week, we are happy to spend a little time in prayer. On Sunday night my friend Karen emailed she wouldn't be available to do her usual heroic work at the boys tutorial and so I volunteered to take her place for the day and found myself attending mass Monday morning, instead of the usual Monday evening.

After dinner Fred headed off to church alone. Shortly after the homily Fred noticed a woman, (also by the name of Karen) and a local nurse, get up from her seat and approach another women in a pew up front. She then turned and looked back into the congregation wide eyed. Fred said instinct kicked in and he found himself heading to the front of the church as he was certain something was terribly wrong.

He arrived at the pew along with one other man, in time to catch the woman in the pew and lay her gently on the floor. They checked for a pulse, NONE. Was she breathing- NOPE. The entire rest of the congregation stood motionless. Everyone was wide eyed, knowing something was needed but completely able to respond. Silence enveloped the hallowed place.Fred looking toward the altar shouted out to Father- "GET THE DEFIBRILLATOR!" Father scurried into the sacristy. He looked  around again- no movement in anyone to help.Turning back to the woman Karen he saw she had hesitatingly started mouth to mouth. He said something inside him just knew that was the wrong thing to do and he recalled hearing on the radio the practice had been mostly stopped. He again found his voice and said loudly to Karen " START COMPRESSION!" and his voice startled her into obedience. She leaned over the woman and forcefully shoved down on her chest, and with that the woman laying unconscious gasped for air! Hallelujah! She began shallow breathing once again and slowly regained consciousness.

Father Holiday rushed over - not with the defibrillator but with Chrism Oil ( which of course was my favorite part of the story. When our friends had died just outside the church a little over a year ago- we heard that in the commotion of the accident  all the priests failed to anoint them. Gosh that is an epic fail! You die directly outside a church and a whole gaggle of priests show up and NONE of them anoint you???? So hearing that Fr. Holiday went for the oil gave me unbelievable joy. PHEW!)

Fred managed to call 911 and get an ambulance there quickly who then carted this 70ish woman off to the hospital. She was on blood pressure medication, but Fred thinks it was a heart attack from the looks of it. Hiss greatest disappointment was that he never got to use the paddle and he had vain imaginings of screaming CLEAR! and shocking the hell  out of her ( no pun intended). He said it was surrealistic to find himself in the front of the church and have all the people suffering from bystander syndrome. He saw no one responding and thought 'There is just NO WAY I am supposed to be in charge of this situation!"

Today I am puzzled at the whole curiosity of the event. I really believe every moment of our life has meaning. Why was Fred there and able to respond in a life saving way? Was it really a coincidence that after years of going to the Monday night novena, I had to fill in for a dear friend removing me from being at my husbands side? So much to think about and be grateful for- isn't there?

Don't take life for granted- you just don't know the day or the hour!

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