1. TOTH, JEAN C.

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Settling into my seat on the Metro train after a long day, I thanked God for time to rest. It would be wonderful to relax during the forty-five-minute ride back to my parked car. I thought all I had to do was rest and ride, but the Lord had other plans for me.

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I glanced up as a big man boarded at Union Station. Wearing brown trousers and a starched, long-sleeved white shirt with the sleeves rolled up at both wrists, he had his attache case hung from a long strap over his left shoulder. He strode toward the front of the subway car, unaware of what would soon happen. As I would later learn, his name was Michael.


Again, I closed my eyes and thanked the Lord for this time to rest. Sinking into the soft subway seat, I sighed with contentment. Suddenly, I heard a voice call out from the front of the swaying Metro car, "Is there a doctor or a nurse on the train?" Rush hour was long over, and the car was almost empty. I grabbed my belongings and rushed to the front of the car. The man who had boarded the train at Union Station was lying face down on the floor, in cardiac arrest.


After years working in a CCU, I knew exactly what had happened even before they turned the man over on his back. He had no pulse, no heartbeat and no respirations.


While my mind wondered if the man had AIDS or some other contagious disease, my spirit cried out, But does he know Jesus? Compassion welled within me until I knew that I must start CPR. I believed God would protect me from personal danger.


Unbuttoning his shirt from the neckline to expose his chest, I began cardiac compressions. Placing my fingers on his nostrils and pulling his head and thick neck backwards, I breathed air into his lungs. They responded with an exhalation of stale smoke. I commented to no one in particular, "He's a smoker."


I began praying between breaths. I paused: an agonal respiration began and then subsided, then nothing. Compressions and breaths, compressions and breaths. I remember calling out, "God have mercy on this man. God have mercy on this man. Breathe!! Breathe!!"


Then I realized that other people were around me. One was pulling on Michael's attache case to free it, but in the process, cutting off any blood supply to his right arm. I laughed within myself, marveling how this man had no heart beat and no respirations, and how someone was worried about his attache case, and I was concerned about the viability of his right arm!! I motioned to the buckle on the strap of the attache case with my head because my hands were doing compressions, saying, "Unbuckle it here and pull it through," and turned back to the task at hand.

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At that time, I remembered that I was supposed to call for help. I called out, "Does anyone know CPR?" There was no answer. Compressions and breaths, compressions and breaths. By now Michael's skin was profusely wet with sweat, making his head as slippery as a wet bowling ball, and his nostrils so slippery that I had a hard time keeping them closed. When someone asked me if I was okay, I first began to marvel at my unusual physical strength: this was a big man with a very thick chest. I was not even tired. The words of Isaiah 41:10 raced through my mind, "I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand."


The train came to a stop at the next station. We were on the floor of the car between the two double doors at the front. Michael's body lay diagonally across the floor. People in the station had gathered and were looking into the car to see what was going on. I was on my knees on Michael's right side. I looked up and saw another Metro train running alongside of us going in the opposite direction. Passengers peered out of the moving train, curious about what was happening on the floor of our Metro car. Compressions and breaths, compressions and breaths. I remember thinking that one man's emergency had shut down one of the rails of the Red Line in the tunnel under downtown Washington, DC.


Again, I called out, "Does anyone know CPR?"


A woman's voice replied, "I do." We began as a team, but Michael's head was so slippery she could not get hold of it enough to open his airway. As I called out once again, "Breathe; God, help him!! Have mercy on this man," I heard another voice softly say, "May I help?"


The man's voice was gentle. Not even looking up, I asked him if he knew CPR, and he replied, "I've been watching you." I asked him if he knew how to do the compressions and he said, "Yes." This intense, gentle young man took over the compressions and, thanking the woman attempting to help, I replaced her at Michael's head.


Over ten minutes had gone by, and I realized that I was still not tired. The young man and I worked as a team; he did everything perfectly. He was so humble. He was so gentle. He followed whatever suggestion I made. It was obvious to me that he wanted to please me and to do what was right. I wondered if the Lord had sent an angel as stated in Hebrews 13:2, "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it."


Someone starting counting, what you are supposed to do in a two-man rescue. I counted to please the on-lookers. I continued to be amazed by the seriousness and yet gentleness of my CPR partner. He had a peace about him. It was then that I realized that I was enjoying what we were doing together.


With that thought, I looked behind me and to the right as two men from the District of Columbia Fire Department Rescue Squad stepped into the train with their equipment. One spoke to me about doing electric shock. I said, "Do it. Do you have an EKG machine?"


He said, "No, all we do are shocks." Once, twice, three, four, five times, the joules of electric current hit Michael's body. His large frame recoiled each time and then became motionless again. Shock, recoil, stillness. (Shock, recoil, stillness.) No response. No heartbeat. No respirations.


A man, wearing the Roman collar of a priest, spoke up, "I'm a chaplain. I saw what was going on from the train going the other direction. So I got off the train, came over, and gave him Last Rites."


Looking at the priest, I demanded, "But, Father, does he know Jesus?"


The priest asked, "Do you mean does he have a knowledge of Jesus?"


This was a time to witness to anyone who was nearby to hear, so I said, "I mean, does he have Jesus in his heart; does he know that Jesus died for his sins?" Reaching for the priest's hands, I said, "Father, pray."


He prayed, and I prayed. I continued to pray, and not quietly, interceding for Michael. Suddenly the words came from my lips, "You will live and not die, and declare the glory of the Lord!!"


Intellectually, I knew that medical treatment was not working. It seemed clear that medically the man would not survive, but God saw things differently.


In the next moment, someone called my name. Stepping out of the Metro car, I asked, "Who are you?" It was the station master.


"What happened?" he asked. I reviewed what had occurred.


Then, to my delight, I saw a stretcher being guided out of the Metro car. On it was Michael. The head of the stretcher was raised up. Michael had on an oxygen mask and a blood pressure cuff. One of the paramedics told me, "His pressure is 90/60." He was breathing on his own and moving his feet. God had saved him. God had done a miracle.


I got further information, and then as I waited for the next subway car to arrive to take me home, I marveled at what had just happened. The thought came to me that this was all orchestrated by God: only a few people were riding at that time in the evening; no other medical personnel were on the train. I knew that God had put me on that particular train. He knew Michael would have a cardiac arrest. He knew what my response would be.


As I sat down on the seat of the next Metro train, I was thanking God and telling him how grateful I was that he had included me in his plans that evening. I slowly looked around. It was as if nothing had happened. Only a few people were riding the train. But I had seen the hand of the Lord. I was awed that God has chosen people to do his work. I believe that God had answered my prayer and, in his mercy, sent the young man. Once again, I prayed for the big man with the starched white shirt who got on the train at Union Station, the man whose name was Michael.


Michael was taken to the George Washington University Medical Center and admitted to the same CCU where I had previously worked. Michael recovered and was discharged ten days later.