Medical Emergency During Sacrament Meeting

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Sacrament meeting was very eventful yesterday.

With about 25 minutes left to go and half way through the third speakers talk, we had a medical emergency in the congregation.?Ǭ† This particular emergency happened smack dab in the middle of the chapel.?Ǭ† Very quickly, members close to the situation tried to assist and get control.?Ǭ† One quickly left and called 9-1-1 to summon the paramedics.

Now, if that wasn’t interesting enough, the response of the rest of the congregation was.

We had a member of the stake presidency sitting on the stand for our meeting (you know, the guy who is suppose to be presiding at the meeting).?Ǭ† He did absolutely nothing and sat there as if it was any other Sunday meeting.

Our bishop sent one of his counselors down to investigate.?Ǭ† The counselor, after assessing the situation, went out into the hallway and waited for the paramedics to arrive instead of reporting back to the bishop.

The speaker received no direction from the leadership on the stand.?Ǭ† He just stayed at the pulpit and continued to give his talk until he was done.?Ǭ† No effort was made to shorten it or look to the leadership for guidance.?Ǭ† He clearly didn’t have anybodies attention.?Ǭ† Everyone in the congregation was watching the unfolding drama happening in the pews.

After his talk, the other counselor instructed organ player to play interlude music while we all sat there.

When the paramedics arrived, the entire congregation sat and watched them work on this individual to a nice rendition of “I know that my redeemer lives”.

Nobody at any time attempted to give a blessing to the person in distress.

The themes of all the talks were… wait for it… ?Ǭ†”How to be better disciples of Christ”.

I cannot recall a time where I felt more akward in sacrament meeting.

Have you ever been in a sacrament meeting where a medical emergency has occured??Ǭ† How was the situation handled?

13 thoughts on “Medical Emergency During Sacrament Meeting

  1. This happened just a few months ago in our chapel when someone started having a seizure. Instead of being in the middle though, it was in the overflow.

    But we have the fire marshal in our ward and a policeman. They both took charge and with the help of some of the people around her, a counselor in the bishopric and the RS president, they got her into the lobby, called 911 and the meeting continued on as usual, with me trying to peek through the doors to see the paramedics arrive.

    Near the end of the meeting a counselor stood up and explained what had happened and that everything was fine.

    It was weird, but smoothly handled.

  2. An epileptic woman had a grand mal seizure during a talk. There were only 3 ward members who assisted: a nurse, a surgeon, and I ran out into the hallway to call 911 and wait outside for the ambulance. Apparently the meeting continued on as if this emergency never happened. It was never spoken of, or acknowledged in the meeting. amazing.

  3. Sounds like the Bishop and SP member weren’t quite sure what to do. Well, have never seen an emergency like that (surprisingly enough, we have many seniors in our ward) but I one of our SP members is a doctor and our Bishop is very with it and would take control of the situation immediately.

  4. Phouchg,
    The three-person thing sounds about perfect. My daughter had an emergency in another ward; our friend sitting in front of us got her husband’s attention on the stand, he ushered us out and called 911, a nurse in the ward started helping our daughter while someone else got 2 doctors who were in the other ward. The meeting (apparently) went on with minimal disruption other than the fact that my wife was supposed to be speaking–she was replaced by a couple on-the-spot testimonies (again, so I hear).

    Everything turned out fine, but many more people would have just gotten in the way. We ended up having nothing but support (two ward members went with us to the hospital, another bishopric member brought us water and snacks later that afternoon at the hospital–probably the most thoughtful thing that I would never have thought of–and another ward member brought us dinner that night). From my point of view, we got the help we needed from the people who needed to help, and disrupting the rest of the meeting would have only gotten in my daughter’s way at best.

    Of course, YMMV.

  5. We had this happen a few years ago. It was a special combined sunday priesthood/relief society meeting held in the chapel. A brother, sitting on the back row, began having a heart attack. After a minute, they asked everyone to move to the cultural hall and closed the divider. A counselor in the SP gave assistance, as well as one other brothers (a fireman). 911 had been called, the EMTs showed up and then took him to the hospital.

    We remained in the Cultural hall, and SP counselor let us know what had happened after the EMTs left.

    Seemed like a good way to do it. More than a few people helping would be a distraction, and clearing out people was the best way to resolve it.

  6. Eric,

    We were a couple of rows back in the over flow area, about 7 rows away.

    We stayed out of the way. When the paramedics arrived, I took my family out into the hall.

    From the responses so far, it seems like this isn’t an uncommon occurance. Does anyone know if there is anything in the Church Handbook of Instructions regarding what to do in such a situation?

  7. I’d hardly say that four comments makes it common. I’ve attended sacrament in at least 100 wards, and I have never seen it happen. I’ve seen more disturbances from drunk people than I have medical emergencies.

  8. It is the presiding authority’s duty and responsibility to ensure that sacrament remains reverent and respectful.

    This happened in our ward about a year ago. A young boy collapsed, his mother carried him out to the lobby, a doctor in the ward accompanied them and no more was heard. The doctor returned to his seat before the end of sacrament, which indicated to everyone that things were OK (or perhaps markedly not so, but that’s awfully pessimistic- it turns out everything turned out ok).

    The Bishop, or member of the SP in this case, did the correct thing in this case, IMHO. The situation seemed to be well in hand by the surrounding members, and nothing would have been served to stop the talk or intervene in any other way. It just would have disrupted the ward more.

    I have a sister-in-law who has grand-mal seizures (1-3 a day) and these sometimes happen in church activities including sacrament meeting. If the Bishop were to stop proceedings when this happened everytime that would be grossly inappropriate.

    Regarding the blessing, that’s completely up to any holder of the Priesthood’s discretion. A doctor in an emergency room who is a holder of the Priesthood could hardly be expected to stop therapeutic intervention and give a blessing, right?

    How do you suggest it could have been done differently? Of course, some more information on the nature of the medical emergency could probably shed some more light on the subject…..

  9. something similar happened in our ward but during our annual Christmas dinner last month. One of our sisters collapsed leaving the cultural hall ( she was still in the hall) and then started having a seizure after she went unconscious. My husband got to her right away, got something under her head/neck to prevent it banging on the floor, directed someone to call 911, got other men to start moving tables and chairs to make a path for paramedics when they got them, told everyone to back away to give them some room, and directed some of the elders quorum to take the children away to where Santa was but to just make it fun so they weren’t scared. He then asked her husband if he wanted her to have a blessing which he said yes and he got someone else to hold her head and they have her a blessing. Just shortly after that the paramedics came and took her to ER.

    On another occasion it had happened in Sacrament during the last speaker’s talk. The member of the bishopric, directed someone to call 911, had the teachers go to their classes, dismissed everyone to go to their classes and dismissed us without closing song and prayer.

    I agree with JM.. had I been the one speaking when all this was going on I would have known no one was even listening to me and I would have just sat down. There are many many Sundays I have to get up during Sacrament meetings which is why I always sit in the back row so I am not disturbing anyone else when I get up to move. If I had a medical problem or illness such as regular seizures, I would not expect my bishopric to stop procedures either but I would make sure that my seizures were not disturbing those all around me if I sat in the front of the chapel for example.

    Obviously a doctor in the ER would not be expected to give a blessing to someone in his care rather then attending to the physical needs of the moment, but I would expect any other priesthood holder there to be attending to the spiritual needs of the person. Especially if I was unable to speak such as in the middle of unconsciousness or seizure etc.

    In another ward in Sask when we were there, a member had a heart attack and another nurse and I started CPR on him. We got him down on a pew and started. The bishopric again dismissed everyone to classes instead of turning the Sacrament meeting into a sideshow gawking and crowding around. It also is very scary to children to see someone “pounding” on someone else’s chest and “kissing” that person when they don’t understand CPR.

  10. No, syncope needs to be seen in an emergency room setting as soon as possible. The ER staff needs to determine what caused the drop in BP and correct the BP if it has not corrected itself. The pt needs to be placed on a cardiac monitor and at least observed for a few hours. Labs also need to be drawn, and medications may need to be given.

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