101 Minutes Frozen in Time
By Shannon Woodland
The 700 Club
CBN.com-March 11, 2015, a day Rose Martin remembers well. Her three sons were playing in the back yard of their Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania home.
“It was a beautiful day. It was one of the first warm days and obviously that was the reason the children were anxious to be outside,” said Rose. “I had supper on and I was going to call them in for supper and I heard this blood curdling scream.”
It was her middle son Greg. Two-year-old Gardell was missing. Rose and her children searched every inch of the three-acre property, including the stream that was swollen from the winter thaw, but Gardell was nowhere to be found. Rose called 911.
Rose also called her husband Doyle, a truck driver, who was three hours away.
“We knew there was nothing more we could do; I knew there was help on the way. The children were crying. I just gathered the children around me and we prayed that God would help us be calm and that somebody could find Gardell.”
That somebody was a neighbor who had joined the search. He found Gardell farther downstream, trapped in the fence line. He carried his lifeless body to the road just as EMS arrived. EMT Anthony Pirraglia was first on the scene.
“After doing some pretty quick assessment we realized he was in cardiac arrest, and immediately started CPR,” explained EMT Pirraglia.
He also noticed something else.
“At that point I really didn’t see a dead two-year-old. I saw life in his little eyes.”
Even then, he knew it was a race against the clock.
Gardell was taken to Evangelical Community Hospital in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. Dr. Frederick Lapp was on the team who continued CPR and attempted to warm Gardell’s body.
“It was pretty grim,” said Dr. Lapp. “There are cases we all read about in medical school, severe hypothermic, patients survive but it’s still a great exception to the rule.”
On the way to the hospital, Rose learned that Gardell had to be Life Flighted to the level one trauma center in Danville, Pennsylvania.
“I felt like again and again God was saying just give him over to me. And when it came to it, I had no other choice. It was out of my control,” said Rose.
Waiting on Lifeflight was EMT Parriglia and Paramedic Howie Mast, who also responded to the emergency call.
“I said to someone that night, after we walked away, if he lives it will be nothing short of a miracle,” said Paramedic Mast.
At Geisinger, staff continued with CPR. It had been over an hour since Gardell had a pulse. Dr. Richard Lambert was having difficulty trying to get an IV into the toddler.
“They were doing such effective CPR that it was really bouncing little Gardell around to make sure the heart was being compressed properly. I had to have them stop very briefly a couple times to allow me to get that needle in,” said Dr. Lambert.
Doctors were also concerned with another danger. Gardell’s blood PH had become acidic, a clear indication of oxygen deprivation. The number alarmed Dr. Frank Maffei.
“In fact it was the lowest I’ve ever seen,” reported Dr. Maffei. “And I remember saying to Dr. Lambert, ‘it’s 6.5 Rich, we’re in a tough spot.’”
All this time, the Martins’ church had been praying, and others throughout central Pennsylvania had joined them. Now en route to Geisinger, Rose had received no word on Gardell’s condition.
“There’s a lot of things that go through your mind,” said Rose. “Wonder if your life will ever go back to normal. You realize there are people who do lose their children and it’s a reality, but it’s always someone else.”
When Rose arrived at the trauma center she learned Gardell had not responded to treatment, and had been taken to surgery for a cardio pulmonary bypass. It was his last hope. As the surgeon was about to begin, Dr.’s Maffei and Lambert said… ‘wait.’
“Literally with our thoracic surgeon scrubbed and ready to canulate for that procedure, we did a last pulse check,” said Dr. Maffei.
CPR was stopped.
“Ultimately did we not only get a pulse but we got a pulse that was really indicative of a heart that was recovering,” said Dr. Maffei.
But there was still cause for concern. Gardell was in critical condition; he’d been without a pulse for 1 hour and 41 minutes. Doctors were very concerned about brain damage. Then something happened that changed their minds.
Rose said, “They said, ‘this child is trying to open his eyes.’ And we clung to that.”
With each passing hour, Gardell improved more quickly than doctors could have hoped for.
Dr. Maffei (smiling) said, “He kept clicking the boxes off and he’s getting better and better so his rate of recovery was stunning.”
Two days later, Gardell went home.
“And so we went from shock and suspense to almost a high like this is unreal,” said Rose.
It’s been six weeks since Gardell’s brush with death and he’s returned to his big backyard to play with his brothers and sisters. Most likely he won’t remember but others will.
Dr. Lambert remarked, “When I think about God’s presence in this, it’s hard for me to reconcile that it only happened by chance.”
Paramedic Mast said, “He was dead for an hour and 41 minutes by all the measures we measure life. So for him to survive, neurologically intact, you have to give some credit to divine intervention. You have to.”
“Believe in the power of God,” said Rose. “We had no question; it was an answer to prayer.”
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