March/April 2002

Traumatic Approach of God

Emergencies happen. Everyday bad things happen to good people, often resulting in traumatic injuries that threaten to kill our loved ones. Whether it’s from a car crash, a house fire or a violent fall, both the young and the elderly alike need urgency and expertise in their care if they are to survive. As an emergency health care provider, I use a step-wise approach to caring for these badly injured people. Following a head-to-toe and a priority-based system, it’s my job to assess the patient, intervene on any problem areas, and then quickly move on to the next phase of stabilization and intervention. As a Christian, I can use this priority-based system as I examine my own life and as I relate to those around me who need help finding their way through the trauma that life often gives to us.

The American Heritage dictionary defines trauma as “a bodily wound or injury, especially one caused by external violence.” Further, trauma is “an emotional shock that causes lasting psychological damage” (American Heritage dictionary, 1983, p. 720). Trauma is our nation’s third leading cause of physical death, accounting for over 150,000 deaths and almost 3 million hospitalizations each year here in the U.S. (TNCC, 1995, p. 12). Each patient who presents to the emergency department is assessed using this system of prioritization of care. One can also apply this system to their own life and their own walk with God.

The word “system” as it is used here describes a process flow. Although this word may imply feelings of a cold, calculated and often over-regimented application of the scientific process, our relationship with God should be almost anything but. The use of a system as we relate to God provides a means of exploring every area of our life that may be keeping us from having the oneness with and the peace that only God can offer. Further, to use a system allows for ease in demonstration and remembering of the main points presented here. Remembrance leads to knowledge, and knowledge combined with genuine desire leads to change--a change in our hearts and our minds as we learn more about God, and ourselves.

Many have heard of the “ABCs” in medicine from television or from a CPR class taken years ago. In today’s ER, we use an “A through I” approach to completely assess and care for injured people. Like following the basics in any discipline or endeavor, to forget to follow our ABCs in an emergency is to attempt to plug a leak in a sinking ship with our finger-- all the while the ship is capsizing. Occasionally in health care we forget our ABCs and worry about a broken ankle or twisted leg, failing to realize that our patient has stopped breathing. As a trauma code-leader, one of my jobs is to help to keep all of us on track and to treat all life threatening injuries first, worrying about the small stuff later. As a Christian, I need to remember to follow my ABCs every day. Only in doing this will I be able to see where God would lead me and to reach out to those in need.

Here then is the traumatic approach of God:

Airway Deficit (neurological) Get a complete set of vital signs

Breathing Expose the patient History and Head-to-toe assessment

Circulation Fahrenheit (temperature) Inspect posterior (back) surfaces

To begin, the health care team looks at a trauma patient’s airway. If the patient has a blocked windpipe, is choking or in any way is unable to get oxygen in and carbon dioxide out, they have literally less than five minutes to live. Time truly is of the essence. Likewise, how’s your airway? Can you breath? Can you taste God’s good air, or are you choking on your anxiety, your fear, your desire for money and success? If so, then you may only have minutes to live. In the emergency room we have many instruments to open the airway. Sometimes we have to put a tube or a device into one’s nose or mouth. Sometimes the patient has had so much trauma that their only hope is for us to cut a new hole in their throat to save their life. How about you? Does God need to cut through all of the things in this world that are choking you to a slow and painful death? Asphyxiation can be sudden, or it may take years to cause you to succumb. The end result is the same.

After assessing the airway, the team looks next at breathing. Often times there is blood or secretions that need to be removed before the patient can effectively breath on their own. A person trapped in a house fire struggles to breath but needs extra oxygen. Sometimes the person has been overcome by the smoke and the fumes as they struggled to get out on their own and they’ve stopped breathing. These people are at the brink of death and need all the help we can give, often requiring breathing tubes and ventilators until they can breath on their own. How is your breathing? Are you able to take a deep breath, or have you been overcome by life’s smokescreen? Are you crawling through the darkness in search of the Light? If so, God is waiting for you. Like the fireman God will rush into any burning building to save you. He will give His life in order to save yours. In fact, He already has.

Back in the ER the trauma team next assesses both c-spine and circulation. Is the patient’s head on straight? Is their neck injured? Perhaps they need a neck brace to help stabilize their situation. How about their circulation? Do they have a pulse? Are they massively bleeding? If there is no pulse, we need to get the blood flowing, for blood is our life force. We may need to do chest compressions and CPR. We may need to give them a huge jolt of electricity to get their heart beating right again, hoping that they soon will wake up. If they have a gaping hole in their side, we may have to hold pressure on that wound until the bleeding stops. We may even need to give them a blood transfusion.

How’s your head? Is it on straight? Let God be your brace. How about your heart? Do you have a pulse? Perhaps you need a shock from God to get your heart beating again. How about that big hole in your side? Has the pain from divorce or loss been so great that you need a transfusion? If so, God is waiting with open arms to give you His life-giving blood. He will hold you in His arms and give you His vital life force-- a force that can overcome any addiction and that will ease the pain of any past hurt in your life. He will touch your heart and fill you again full of life, if only you ask Him to.

After our patient’s airway, breathing and circulation have all been cleared, we next look for a neurological deficit. Are there signs of a head injury? Are they stroking out, with eyes and pupils fixed and dilated? I took care of one young man who was hit by a car as he rode home one night on his bicycle. As we drilled holes into his head to relieve the pressure, I thought what a terrible thing for such a young man to be lying here dying. Are you dying? Do you have a deficit in your life? Perhaps you are paralyzed with fear or depression, no longer able to move about freely. Maybe life has so traumatized you that you can’t move at all, for you are unconscious to God and your eyes are fixed on only the problems in your life. God has the solution, but you have to ask Him for it.

Focusing on our patient, the team next has to expose the patient. Using bandage scissors we cut away all the clothing that impedes our view. If left unnoticed, even a small wound could cause disaster later on. Sometimes the only evidence we initially have of internal bleeding is a small bruise on the outside. God is the same. He will cut away anything that binds us so that we may see His truth in our lives. He will expose all the dark areas, for even what we consider “little sins” can have devastating consequences in our lives.

Moving along, we need to get a temperature (Fahrenheit), keep our patient warm, and get a complete set of vital signs. How warm is this patient? Have they been exposed to the elements so long that their core is cold as ice? What are their blood pressure and heart rate? If too high or too low, too fast or too slow, all of these will not let this patient live. God asks the same: are we too cold? Are we racing around so fast that we don’t have time to rest? Maybe we are so sluggish with depression that we barely move at all. None of this is God’s will in our lives. Only by focusing on Him can we become “just right” and have His peace.

As we complete the care for our trauma patient, we look finally at the history of this accident, we conduct a full head-to-toe assessment and we must inspect posterior surfaces. What caused this to happen? Were drugs or alcohol involved? Was this person beaten or abused? When, where and how did the trauma occur? All questions must be answered if we are to help this person to recover. God wants to come to your rescue. He wants to be the One who heals your pain. When life turns you over and judges you for your past, God’s got your back. Put your trust in Him and never turn from Him.

In trauma we have what we call our “golden hour.” This is the time that matters the most, for after this, we’ve lost our window of opportunity, and this person may die. This is your golden hour, too. Seek God while He may still be found. Don’t let the trauma of this life weigh you down any further, for the grace of God truly is sufficient for you. Peace be with you.

 [This month's article submitted by an anonymous source, March 2002]
May NOT be reprinted without permission.  Copyright 2002 Starr-Rhapsody Creations. All Rights Reserved.

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