The ‘Dead’ Man Who Rose Again

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This week, a interesting news headline caught my eye: Man Given Up For Dead Found Alive. I thought it was an appropriate story to share since it’s Easter- a time where we celebrate Jesus dying and rising again!

Source: Herald Sun

On April 1, 30-year-old Daniel Huf crashed his Porsche which flipped, trapping him inside. Two MICA paramedics (intensive care paramedics: this is a rank you have to work very long and hard to get to which means they were highly experienced) assessed the trapped man and declared him dead as they could not find a pulse. They then left the scene.

SES volunteers went on to remove the body from the wreckage, but found he was still warm and had a pulse. The paramedics were called back onto the scene to treat the patient and he was rushed to the Royal Melbourne Hospital in a critical condition. Understandably so, the paramedics were very traumatized by the incident and have even said that they regretted their actions. Their actions are now being investigated.

I know most people would be quick to assume the paramedics had made a grave mistake (possibly because they were tired and overworked-they had been working since 5pm- the crash occurred early morning the next day), but I find it strange that TWO experienced, highly trained paramedics would both miss a pulse. They have procedures to follow and this is something that they’ve done day in and day out.

Could it have been that:

  • The circumstance (the way he was trapped) made it too difficult for them to assess him properly? 
  • They were really truly overworked and not thinking straight?
  • He was still somewhat alive but his pulse was too weak or irregular without the help of equipment (which they couldn’t use due to him being trapped)
  • He really was dead at that moment and came back to life later?

When I read the article, I asked V, “Could there be any medical reason for someone coming back to life without any human intervention?”

He thought for a while then, unable to give me a medical answer, replied, “Erh…God?”

We laughed it off but maybe it wasn’t so far away from the truth. A couple days later, the man’s family was interviewed and told the news reporter that “it was by God’s gracious hand” that helped him survive the crash. Then, amazingly, instead of criticizing the paramedics, they went on to say “they (the paramedics) should be praised for the wonderful work they do under very demanding circumstances”. What graciousness! 

I think the media was sniffing out some “we were shocked and horrified” news article (and possibly sparking the debate over the training/demanding work schedules of paramedics), but instead, they got a positive story filled with hope. We could all certainly learn a thing or two from them.

Judging from what an emergency doctor reported, the most likely scenario was that he was always alive but a pulse can be difficult to detect when there is extensive loss of blood. The paramedics did the best they could to asses him given the situation (they couldn’t feel a pulse by hand, he was unconscious, he wasn’t breathing). Obviously in hindsight, you’d say you’d regret your actions…but it seems the only thing differently they could have done was wait for him to be removed, then use a cardiac monitor on him to detect a heartbeat. Even then, sufficient time would have elapsed. It wouldn’t have made much of a difference to treatment time-wise.

What we could take away from this case is not to be quick to anger and to always conduct ourselves with dignity. Anger and negativity doesn’t achieve anything. Instead of speaking death, choose to speak life! As was reported last, it seems that Daniel’s condition has improved from critical to serious but stable. God bless him and his family.

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