When a helicopter descends into our mountain-top community, it's usually for one of three reasons: search and rescue, to pick up water for a forest fire or to pick up a patient for a 20-30 minute flight to the emergency room in Bakersfield or Valencia. (Actually, there's one other reason, and it's a fun one: the Lilac Festival)
Since it was already dark and I did not smell smoke, I knew that a water pick-up was unlikely; I got in my car and headed down the hill toward the fire department. When I arrived a block away from the emergency helipad, I pulled over to the side of the road and parked my car. I pulled out my binoculars to see what was happening. I saw the Hall air ambulance; the paramedics and the medics from the medical flight-team were tending to a patient in the ambulance.
I stopped for a while to pray. I prayed for the patient, the medical personnel in attendance, and the family and concerned friends outside the ambulance. I have no idea who it is, but in a community as small as ours, it's possible I know them. It really does not matter whether I know them or not, and it has no bearing on the impact of my prayer for divine intervention. A person is hurting, in need of care and compassion. That's all that matters.
After about 10 minutes, the medics removed the patient from the ambulance and wheeled the gurney to the waiting helicopter. Moments later, the air ambulance lifted off from the helipad. It's probably on it's way to Bakersfield Heart Hospital as I write this.
Twice, I've been taken off the hill by the Hall Ambulance paramedics. Fortunately, my condition did not require an air evacuation, but I remember how frightening it was, nonetheless. I'm sure it was even more so for my family.
I'm thankful for the men and women who care for us up here, whether they provide us with fire or paramedic services, or security and a number of other services that allow us to enjoy life in the mountains.
I'm thankful that their training and technology are available to us, even in this remote mountaintop community.
I hope that this person - anonymous to me - will rest peacefully in flight tonight and that they will be well cared for when they arrive.