“He should have been dead,” Elizabeth Manley said.
Jeff’s face was blue, and his body would periodically convulse as if trying to breathe. Just a few minutes prior, the 69-year-old volunteer relief worker had slumped into unconsciousness, suffering a massive heart attack. This was the Widow Maker – when the main artery down the front of the heart is totally blocked or has a critical blockage.
According to the American Heart Association, every 34 seconds, an American has a heart attack, and every 83 seconds, an American dies of a heart attack. From such a blockage involved with the Widow Maker, survival is low.
Jeff would need a miracle to survive.
Working in his favor were Manley and Sarah Davis, two Clearwater Valley area women trained in CPR and emergency medical response, and – more importantly, according to the pair – a room full of people praying for Jeff and a miracle of healing.
“That’s what turned the tide,” Manley said. “It was definitely the power of prayer.”
Life-or-death scenarios were not on the agenda for Davis of Kooskia, and Manley of Kamiah, who last month were volunteers in Texas with ReachGlobal Crisis Response (RGCR), a Christian ministry providing relief in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. The pair worked in teams on the physical work – from demolition and cleanup to framing walls and hanging sheetrock – and as a part of this, ministering to disaster victims.
“There was lots of prayer, and a lot of answers to prayer,” Manley said.
“It’s very much about people and relationships,” Davis said about the RGCR effort, “and about rebuilding lives, not just rebuilding homes.”
Manley, 19, is a 2016 home school graduate, currently working on her associate’s degree. She is the daughter of David and Julie Manley. Davis, 22, is a 2014 home school graduate. She is the daughter of Leigh and Brian Davis.
Heading into this, the pair were both Outdoor Emergency Care-certified – essentially a first-responder level with basic first aid and CPR training—and had served as patrollers for Snowhaven Ski Area. As well, Manley has volunteered with the Kamiah Ambulance crew and is taking classes for her EMT-certification. Davis and Manley had been involved in medical incidents before, but both had been observers or had provided care under supervision of a trained, experienced EMT.
“So, what happened in Texas really surprised us,” Manley said.
“For me, at least, it was absolutely terrifying,” she continued, “the scariest thing I’ve ever been through.”
In Friendswood, Texas (a suburb of Houston) that Oct. 31 morning, Davis and Manley were in staff meeting when their site director burst in for help as Jeff had collapsed unconscious in his chair in the other room. The Chicago man was suffering an as-yet undetermined health crisis.
“We started checking things off the list,” Davis said, the ABCs (airway, breathing, circulation), determining they needed to start CPR. Davis started chest compressions as those in the office were gathered around, both to pray and to bring supplies. Davis described the time as “chaos,” and both she and Manley remembered it in sharp moments.
“We didn’t have any equipment,” Davis said.
“I didn’t have a mask,” Manley said.
“And it just appeared,” Davis said.
“It felt like I had five hands; things just appeared,” Manley said.
The pair worked through three CPR cycles on Jeff, and throughout this, Davis said, “My constant plea was, ‘God, help.’” In the midst of the third cycle, paramedics came in transitioned to continue care and connected him to a machine to monitor his vitals. And then they heard from the paramedics, “We have a pulse, we have blood pressure.”
“That’s when I said, ‘Thank you, God, he’s going to live,’” Davis said.
“Not by ourselves, but God was there, he was clearly there,” Manley said.
The following day, the pair visited Jeff in the ICU, at the end of the week he was able to fly home.
Davis and Manley both said the response and aftermath were miraculous answers to prayer — that God worked them through the weight, stress and fear of the crisis; in their working in concert to both maintain CPR while not causing further injury through their efforts; that Jeff returned home to his wife and children who could witness his miracle – “The blessings flowed right and left,” Manley said.
As far as the experience, “It very much reaffirmed my faith,” Manley said, that as much as it was physical it was a “spiritual attack, and to see God at the center of that and to bring life in that room.” The experience, “brought back my passion for the Lord in many ways,” and made her realize she tends to pull toward crisis situations, “but I’m not 100 percent sure what that looks like right now.”
Davis said she was grateful how God gave her the heart for “his people … and how he chose me in his way to do a miracle.” She will be returning to Texas to continue relief efforts.
“It’s definitely where God wants me,” Davis said.