by Hans Hartmann, Paramedic, Believer
3 months ago the deal was finalized. I would supply the medical cover at this year’s event. I was competing against a rival company, and was prepared to equal their quote for 3 vehicles on site. I promise 3 vehicles, but would throw in a field hospital, 2 quads and 10 outstations in at the same price. These would be manned from Friday morning to Sunday night. Having done the event last year, I knew what I was letting myself in for. After all, last year we had 65 000 men attending, and we coped with them with our 10 medics, all volunteers. With the 200 000 expected, we would have many more volunteers, and the money we would be paid, would cover our disposables and travelling expenses, as well as our meals. I planned to discount whatever we did not spend, as this was an event I would not do for money…..
3 days to go. I have not slept very well for the last 3 weeks. I have searched high and low for medics, but have only 3. Myself and one ambulance that I am standing down from my operations. I phone my stepson, who is one of the ambulance staff and plead with him to find me more staff. Even the medics who attended last year have pulled out. I have phoned my competitors and asked them to take over the event; assuring them that the exposure they will get far exceeds the little money they will get paid. Again I am turned down.
Then I receive a SMS from my step-son: “DEPEND ON IT – GOD KEEPS HIS WORD. DOUBT IS A DEMONIC DETOUR. WHEN YOU GET TO WHERE GOD WANTS YOU TO BE, HIS PROVISION WILL ALREADY BE IN PLACE, NO TURNING BACK“.
OK, But I have already prayed and asked…. I am now in panic mode, and I change my requirements from Christian Male Volunteers to Christian Male Medics that will be paid, and eventually to any Male Medic who is prepared to work for money. This will be financial ruin, but I no longer care.
One Day to go. Thursday morning I receive a message that my North Coast manager has managed to find some medics, as has someone in Durban, and 5 are available in Pietermaritzburg. I proceed to Mighty Men to set up the Field Hospital for Friday morning. Buy sunset the first patients arrive, even though we are only on duty from Friday. Already 60 000 men are on site. My ambulance is dispatched immediately to cover the event during the night, and by sunrise 6 patients have been treated, all minor ailments.
Friday morning dawns, without any sleep. Two medics from Durban do not show up, two from North Coast and 3 from Pietermaritzburg. I am left with 20. Not quite what I was hoping for, but manageable all the same. I hate myself for doubting in the first place. However, I am the only paramedic, and should we have to move a serious patient, the event will be left with nothing but ambulance staff. It will just have to do! By 10am the patients are starting to arrive. Flu, runny tummy, asthma, allergy, silly things that mean a lot to the patient, but are not what we are trained for. We need the serious stuff to make our life worth while….. A Provincial Ambulance response vehicle pulls up with a doctor, required by Disaster Management to be in the OPS CENTER in case of disaster. This center is based about 10 meters from our field hospital. The Doctor strolls in and introduces himself in a heavy Zulu accent. Great I think, just what I need, an intern who is forced to do his work at a provincial ambulance service. He promptly announces to the organizers and police manning the OPS Center that should they require him; he will be at the field hospital, and promptly starts to scratch through our equipment. I am too busy to arrange medics at the outstations to worry about him at this stage anyway.
By the time I have everyone arranged, stations worked out, instructions given, I become aware that the Doctor is the only one in the tent, treating patients. I wander across for a closer look, and discover that he is not just handing out the few medications we have, but is actually examining the patients with their aches and pains, and actually treating them. “This simply wont do” he announces, and drives off to Greytown and returns shortly afterwards with half the hospital pharmacy, handing out anti-biotics and medications that you need to study at least 7 years just to pronounce. Wow, now this is what was needed in the first place. In addition, he unpacks ventilators, heart monitors, vital signs monitors etc from his vehicle. When the going gets really tuff, another doctor arrives to help out. Another 3 doctors treat patients at the outposts….”his provision will already be in place!!!!!”
Friday night Angus does an altar call and sees literally 1000’s give their live to the Lord. Awesome! Out the corner of my eye I catch one of my medics holding his hand high up. Wow, and I wanted only Christian medics here. The night offers little sleep. Some patients need hospitalization. There are some broken bones from falls on the motorcycles, some medical cases, all stable, none life threatening. When things do quieten down, I am amazed to see medics sitting in small groups, bible in hand. Words are falling on fertile land everywhere. Another piece of the Lords way falls into place. God has a plan with everything. His way…not ours. Why is this repeated over and over again and again I am still surprised by it.
Saturday morning breaks cool and clear. Soon the heat takes over, but all runs well. The medics are doing their job, the doctor is amazing. The service is electrifying. Men are called to honor God, to put him first, to honor their family. Angus talks of the war that the devil is waging against all believers. We need to be fit to fight the war. He does pushups, runs on the stage, tells us that God loves us and wants a personal relationship with us, and tells us that God talks to us. He tells us to read the bible, and makes us promise that we will. “Good people don’t go to heaven, BELIEVERS go to heaven!”
He tells us how he has had a restless night with no sleep. He has had a fever, but after his wife prayed for him, the fever has left him. He tells us that he is tired, but must fight the war. After 2 hours he is visibly exhausted and after praise and worship we make our way back, slowly, between 200 000 men. No sooner do we reach out tent when a marshal rushes over with the news that we are needed urgently at the main stage for a patient who had collapsed. We make our way back through the endless crowds, eventually reaching the stage, only to find one of our ambulances already there. I find it strange that the patient is under the stage, but push through anyway. Maybe they needed the shade for the patient. Near the entrance I find an elderly gentleman lying on the floor. He is covered in sweat, already has a drip up, and has an oxygen mask on. I kneel down next to him to asses him, and discover it is Angus. Even lying there, he keeps telling us that this is a war; the Devil will attack every where. He explains that he is exhausted! Whilst still lying on the floor he makes plans for the night service. He will take it easy tonight; maybe even sit on a chair whilst preaching. We all know that this will be impossible for him. Even so, we remove the drip and help him to his feet. Outside the stage area, men are praying and singing, and shout and clap when Angus appears. He is taken to his house by car, still weak.
30 minutes after we arrive back at the tent, another usher appears. We need a stretcher urgently at Angus’s house. No other information. Could be someone who has come for prayer, or could be Angus himself. We fly through the crowds. Security men let us through, and we grab the stretcher and jump-bags before rushing into his modest house. The walls are thick, with small windows, and little light. We are spotted and chased out. Once we get out into the light, we are recognized and sent around the house to the front lawn. There we find Angus, on his side, unresponsive, our Zulu Dr and another Dr at his side. The heart monitor is already attached, a new drip running full speed. I ask the doctor for an update. He informs me that Angus collapsed, and glances at the monitor. One look and my worst fears are realized. The rhythm is very abnormal, with an Inverted “T” wave, typically found with a Heart Attack. I look at the Blood Pressure monitor – More bad news, it reads 80 / 40. The oxygen mask is already on, with all holes masked up to try and increase the concentration of Oxygen delivered to Angus. I have seen this many times before. I know what happens next. These are the precious few seconds we are given to prepare for the inevitable. CPR is just seconds away. Angus has already received his “Disprin” and TNT Spray to dilate blood-vessels around the heart and assist with the breaking down of blood-clots. He is deeply unconscious. I know the drill, so I pull out my Drug bag and break open the resuscitation drugs we will need shortly. Adrenaline in one syringe, Atropine in another with Calcium Gluconate in a third. To counteract acidosis that occurs during CPR, I set up the Sodium BiCarbonate Drip, but don’t attach it yet. Angus is still going, barely, which gives me a chance to select the tube that will shortly go down his throat to assist in his breathing. I check the equipment to do this with. He is still going, barely. I pull out the paddles from the heart machine, and place the gel next to it. This will be needed to deliver the shocks to his chest to attempt the re-starting of his heart. At this stage Angus’s blood-pressure remains low, despite the drip running full-out. I select another, smaller drip and add to it 4 ampoules of adrenaline. Sometimes this helps to increase the blood-pressure. It seems to be working. His blood-pressure climbs slowly to 100 / 60, still dangerously low, but better. Now we need to decide on how to move him to a specialist as quickly as possible. A helicopter has already landed, but a quick inspection shows that we cannot lie Angus down anywhere inside the cramped aircraft, and his condition is too critical to take a chance. A medical Helicopter is required, and is summonsed. How lucky that I know the manager personally, and can dispense with all formalities of protocols and Guarantees of payments. Is this luck? It leaves immediately.
In the distance, I hear the call over the massive speakers for the men to get together and pray. Tens of Thousands heed the call and move in that direction. Thousands more collect around Angus’s house. Loud prayers are heard everywhere. I am acutely aware of the chill in the air, the clouds that are suddenly building up. THIS IS WAR keeps going through my mind. If this is a war, I am living in the middle of it. This servant of GOD is being struck down.
Angus slowly regains consciousness. His family is by his side. There is no panic, no fear. I have never experienced this before. They are just by his side, holding his hand. Such peace. There is no doubt in anybody’s mind that Angus is about to meet the Lord. The helicopter lands and another paramedic jumps out. Caleb, one of the best paramedics I know and trust. After a quick handover, Angus is loaded into the Helicopter and takes off. I can still see his face, straining to look out, waving with both hands. I feel exhausted, and spend a long time picking up the medical waste. With a heavy heart I get back to the tent. I am dismayed at the number of people packing up their tents and leaving. At the same time, I have no doubt that Angus will not be back soon, if at all. However, I know that I am not here to meet Angus. I am here to meet Jesus. That night, rumors spread that Angus has been discharged. However, I know better. I was there, I had seen the cardiac rhythm, had seen the low blood-pressure, and had personally infused the adrenalin. Either way, I attend the night meeting, and find peace and joy in knowing God.
The next morning I am summonsed to set up a station under the stage. Angus will preach! How can that be? Obviously he has forced himself out of hospital, and barely clinging to life, will now attempt a sermon in spite of his condition! How wrong I am. He arrives with his family and friends, is full of life, kneels and prays before going up to the stage to present his sermon. He talks of his day lying helpless on his lawn, and asks if we are ready to meet the Lord? He was close to meeting him yesterday, but he was healed. The cardiologist ran stress tests; they ran blood tests, and every other conceivable test. Final diagnosis – NOTHING. NO ABNORMALITIES DETECTED. No abnormal chemical levels, no traces of heart damage, NOTHING. He is discharged 3 hours after arriving at the hospital. Either I need to go back to study, because after 25 years I have no idea what I am doing, or accept that God is capable of great miracles. Personally, I believe the latter.
Angus has his preach, and many more give their lives to the Lord. It is a war, and those that left before Sunday, are the casualties of this war. Those that stayed saw the greatness of our God. Those that came to meet Angus, were disappointed. Those that came to meet God, met him.
Sunday afternoon comes, and we pack up. We are exhausted, but feel alive. My body tells me it’s been through hell. Every joint aches, every muscle complains. It feels like it has been at war. My sole is alive and on fire. God is mighty, He is good. I pay my medics. Total cost? EXACTLY the amount quoted 3 months before the event!!! Travelling costs, meals and disposables will be recovered from the few ambulance transfers done by the ambulance. “….his provision will ALREADY be in place” just does not want to get out of my mind.
At the debrief, we hear of testimonies of men who’s business back home improved dramatically whilst he was serving at Mighty Men, we hear of SMS’s that were received before Angus’s collapse of impending danger, people phoning from around the world with prayers and words of encouragement. What an awesome GOD we serve! We are warned or the devils attack in the week to come, where he will try and destroy all the good that has been done. Already there is talk of Angus having been flown to Hospital with a stroke and that this was done only for money etc. The Devil is at work, and THIS IS WAR. OUR GOD IS GOOD….ALL THE TIME!!!!
In total we treated close to 200 patients. Dr Ntuli was awesome. The experience was great. It allowed me to serve with the gift that God has given me. It allowed me to grow in my faith. Would I do it again? ANYDAY! Should we do it again? The devil will have won the battle in the end if we don’t.