It has been two weeks since I was last “on call” as a first responder. I’m starting to make the adjustment. Last night, I got up in the middle of the night to use the restroom and I didn’t take my telephone with me. I won’t need to do that any more, but training myself to follow new habits will take a little time. I’ve taken a few weeks’ vacation before, so two weeks isn’t enough to make the change. I’m surprised how quickly I’ve been able to not worry about it. This morning was a bit different, however. I still have an application on my phone set to notify me if there is a call for CPR within ten minutes of my location. It is really wonderful technology and I’ll continue to keep it because some day I may be in the right position to help someone. The application went off just as I was waking this morning and the address was closer to a fire station than to my home, so I knew that an emergency unit and a medical unit would be there before I could get dressed. Still I felt that surge of adrenaline and found myself full awake within a few seconds. It is going to take a while for that to calm down. The particular application I have on my phone is not in use in all communities, so it may not work outside of Rapid City, but here I still like to check and make sure that someone is responding.

There was an occasion, many years ago, when I was called upon to actually perform CPR. I was trained as I was volunteering as an ambulance driver in our small, rural community. I was in the city on that day, however. Actually North Dakota doesn’t have many cities, so it is a matter of perspective if you call Bismarck a city. For us it was a major shopping center. At any rate I was at a meeting and a man with whom I was speaking suddenly experienced a heart attack and collapsed on the floor. Fortunately, there were a lot of others around, so my call for someone to call 911 was heard and responded and within a very short time another person trained in CPR came running. The two of use performed CPR until the ambulance arrived. I don’t know how long it took the ambulance to get there. It was probably under 10 minutes, given the location. It seemed much, much longer. The results were not good. The person was pronounced dead at the hospital. We learned of the death a little more than an hour after the ambulance left. We were, however, praised by the ambulance crew and later a couple of others, for our prompt action.

I hope I never have to do that again. The only other time I’ve witnessed CPR in person in an actual crisis was when my wife needed it in the hospital. I realize there is no comparison in the emotional impact of the patient being a near-stranger and the patient being my wife of 46 years. I have no desire to be with someone who needs CPR, but if that occasion occurs, I want to be well prepared. A couple of ours every couple of years for recurrent training seems like a discipline that I will continue for the next phase of my life. I have, however, moved my rescue breather from the backpack with which I carry things back and forth to work to an emergency first aid kit that I carry in my vehicle.

The location of a rescue breather and the settings on my telephone are really minor things in this season of transition that we are entering. I’ve got some really big things coming down the pike, like the first month of my adult life without a paycheck, and preparing a house to be sold, and planning an Interstate move while the pandemic is still a factor. My brain, however, isn’t as able to think of the really big issues in the same way as the small decisions that come each day. “Where do I put this one item?” “Is this something that should be kept, recycled, or thrown in the trash?” I can deal with those questions. And if I deal with enough of them, I finally get to the point where I’ve gotten some big things done.

For me, moving out of my office and preparing it for the next person to occupy was a huge task. It is nearly completed. There are just a few worship notes for today, a couple of notes to staff and one or two items that go home with me today. We are unsure whether tomorrow or the next day will be the day to turn in our keys, but it will be one of the two. Just having fewer keys on my keyring will be another little thing.

Change is necessary in life. Even though it is natural for us to resist change, we cannot stop it. Life goes on and we are a part of that flow. I don’t have to do too much to remind myself of that. All I have to do is to look in the mirror. There is a lot less hair on the top of my head than was the case when I moved to Rapid City 25 years ago. If I decide to let down my hair when I retire, it isn’t going to be a dramatic event. I feel a few more aches and pains at the end of a day when I’ve been working. I seem to be a bit more eager to take off my shoes at the end of the day. There are lots and lots of changes that occur in every life.

Much of my career has been advocating for and guiding people in the midst of change. A pastor is continually innovating and changing. I hope those skills will serve me well in the next few weeks and months as I adjust to a big change in my life.

Copyright (c) 2020 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!