CLOSE TO HOME – Thanks for the Privilege
By Leslie Schrader
By Leslie Schrader
by Rev. Leslie Schrader
The years have passed quickly since an RCMP inspector invited me to be the chaplain for our local detachment. Looking back, I recall one of my first experiences on patrol with officers on a rainy Wednesday night.
With lights flashing and sirens wailing, four officers race from various parts of the city to the same destination – a downtown hotel. The call from dispatch and the computer readout verify that a woman with slashed wrists is outside a hotel bar bleeding to death.
We penetrate the crowd and came face to face with the woman. Blood spurting from both wrists, she slinks to the ground, cursing the police. The crowd is vulgar, seething and slurring drunken profanities.
We manage to move the crowd back as the ambulance arrives and paramedics rush to the woman. She fights their attempts to put her on the stretcher. Some in the crowd jeer, “You pigs, what are you doing here?”
Finally, with wrists bandaged to staunch the blood loss, the woman is wheeled to the ambulance and rushed to hospital. Still standing at the scene, I glance at the pavement. The midnight downpour, like heaven’s tears, is slowly washing away the pool of blood near my feet.
The assurance of God Almighty bursts into my heart and mind. “This is where the Lord wants me to be. I am here for them (the officers). They have invited me into their lives. God, help me to help them.”
Fifteen years have passed since that night, and there have been many traumatic experiences, too numerous to tell. However, the confidence of being where God wants me to be has remained as clear as it was that first Wednesday night.
I always look forward to spending time with officers on patrol. They have become dear friends and confide in me about some of the traumatic incidents they have experienced.
A young female officer was first on the scene after a teenager fell from a bridge to the rocks below. He had intended to walk on the plank handrail to where he could jump off into the deep pool of water below, as his buddies were doing, but slipped and fell.
The officer called for backup and an ambulance on her arrival. The reply came back, “It will be 15 minutes or more before the ambulance arrives.” She rushed down the riverbank and out onto the rocks. The boy’s friends huddled in fear, watching her anxiously as blood oozed for their friend’s mouth and head.
“Do something, do something!” they screamed.
Bending over the boy, she felt for a pulse, but there was none. The urgency of saving a life overwhelmed her and she began to administer CPR. Later, the emergency doctor pronounced him dead on arrival.
Back at the detachment, the young officer burst into tears. “I had to do something… he wasn’t breathing. I didn’t have the resuscitation kit, so I gave him mouth to mouth without protection. This could be the death of me.”
Though shaken, tears released her emotions. Her colleagues consoled her and I prayed with her.
Each day I pray that God will help me to help officers through their difficult times.
Thank you for the privilege, dear friends.
The past president of the Canadian Police Chaplain Association, Rev. Leslie Schrader recently retired from pastoral ministry. In addition to his RCMP chaplaincy, he volunteers as a chaplain on cruise ships, providing worship opportunities and spiritual conversation for cruise patrons and crew members.