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Genre

Memoir, Nonfiction

Audience

Adult

Author’s Worldview

Catholic

Year Published

2022

Themes

Providence, neighborliness, community, volunteering, paramedics

 

Reviewed by

Courtney Guest Kim

Heaven-Sent Miracles and Rescues is the fourth book in Andrea Jo Rodgers’ series, True Stories from a First Responder. Although the book consists of anecdotes from the author’s experience serving on a volunteer squad of EMTs, the larger theme is that of ordinary people helping their neighbors. Most of the chapters describe a day-in-the-life of Rodgers’ colleagues, on call in Pine Cove to provide Basic Life Support to their community. Some chapters are organized around peculiar characters the author has encountered, such as the man with Attention Seeking Disorder, who keeps calling 911 over and over again just to get the EMTs to take him to the hospital in their ambulance, because he wants the hospital’s ice cream. The responders demonstrate extraordinary patience with this man and a charitable humor that is both inspiring and astonishing, as they keep getting called out to his apartment repeatedly.

Each chapter of the book begins with a Bible verse, and it’s clear that the author is relating not just an entertaining collection of anecdotes, but a deep faith in the Providence of God, within whose plan nothing is a random accident, even though to us explanations may remain elusive. Whether or not these stories strike you as miraculous, they will certainly bolster your faith in your country, as you learn about the dedication, patience and compassion of these volunteers, many of whom serve their community for decades without any financial compensation.

This book is an antidote to the poisonous cocktail of rage, resentment and anxiety that suffuses the news media. Rodgers’ tone remains steady, calm and comforting, even when describing what it was like to stand shoulder deep in flood water during a hurricane rescue of a trapped couple. She is exactly the sort of person you would want to show up on your doorstep in an emergency. Reading her stories may motivate you to be more patient, compassionate and generous in your own dealings with people in your community, even the weird ones. Without fanfare, Rodgers upholds a tradition of citizen-servants who cheerfully dedicate their spare days and nights to aiding anyone at all who needs help of any sort. Some of the people Rodgers describes have been personally well known to her for years. Others are momentary encounters. One especially uplifting story is of a young heroin addict rescued from an overdose—who six years later reappears, having turned her life around, and is now herself helping a neighbor.

This book is suitable for all ages. Although it’s clear that some of the patients have serious problems, the narrative avoids any sensational or disturbing details. Read it to refocus on what your community could be, when you and other ordinary people take the opportunities that come along to help others.

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