The danger of writing a daily entry or column is that you begin to repeat yourself.  You understand, of course, because that’s what your wife does.  She tells the same story about your infamous missed touchdown or the prom or her mother-in-law again and again because it always gets a laugh.  Or she can depend on her audience to shed a tear at the appropriate places. 

This was my great fear in starting the Special Gathering Weblog.  That after two weeks, I would be telling the same things again and again.  Special Gathering is a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  We don’t do social work but classic ministry–evangelism and discipleship.  Over the past months, I’ve realized that I’m learning new things daily about our members and their disabilities and myself.  As an example, there was another emergency in our Melbourne program on Sunday. 

Steve, who doesn’t seizure, had two seizures just after ascending the stairs onto the second story of the educational building.  I wrote extensively about the episode that occurred several weeks ago regarding a seizure.  However, this time was different because the circumstances were altered.  When I called his mother, she told me to NOT call the ambulance.  His seizures had lasted 45 seconds and then 90 seconds.  Because he had never had a seizure, I think she believed that we were mistaken.  We didn’t call 911, as she instructed. 

Yet, once he had come out of the second seizure, two of us were inquiring about his condition.  As we were sitting on the floor with him, it became evident that he was sweating and his skin became extremely clammy.  He complained that his left arm was hurting him.  Of course, these are the classic symptoms of a heart attack.   Immediately, without consulting his mother again, I called 911 and explained the situation to them.  With heart attack or stroke symptoms, delay can be life threatening.  911 should always be called under these circumstances.   

Before his mother could arrive, the fire department was on the scene and the EMT’s were ready to transport him to the hospital.  His mother came within minutes of their arrival and she was more than willing to have the emergency medical team take him. 

As it turned out, he had not had a heart attack but he continued to have multiple seizures all during the day.  Though his mother is a retired nurse, it was a good thing that she allowed him to be transported because his next seizure was life threatening and she would have lost him had he not been under medical supervision. 

Later that day, I relayed the incident to our Executive Director Richard Stimson.  “You must call 911 if there are symptoms of a heart attack,” he reassured me.  “You couldn’t wait for his mother.” 

Perhaps the greatest lesson I learned from this incident was how grateful I am for the continuing education I receive working with Special Gathering.  Each year, we repeat the First Aid Course.  We have annual teacher training that amplifies the importance of team work or emphasizes something regarding disabilities.  Having training from The Special Gathering manual has saved more than one life. 

Because we’ve had four unusual incidents in the past three weeks, I was curious and looked back in my files.  The last unusual incident form for our program was filed about three years ago.  Yet, in that time, I’ve had at least three health and safety training sessions.  I thank God for the provision made years ago to keep our staff and volunteers up to date regarding first aid issues. 

On second thought, perhaps repeating ourselves isn’t such a bad idea.  In fact, it can save lives.

When was the last emergency that you’ve had to handle?  When was your last emergency training event?