It was a rainy evening about 9 p.m. when members of the Pulaski County, Arkansas, volunteer fire department were summoned to the site of an automobile accident. Chief and EMT Tom Caton, one of the first to arrive, surveyed the scene with horror. A car, now almost torn in two, had spun off the rural road, hitting trees with such force that pieces of metal lay throughout the woods. One teenaged girl had been flung into the ditch, the other near a creek. Both were unconscious and looked badly injured.
"I'll take this one!" As the sheriff's deputies arrived to cordon off the area, Tom ran to the girl nearest him. There was a large hole in her skull, and Tom tore gauze out of his medical bag and pushed it against the gaping wound. He had to stop this terrible bleeding, before she hemorrhaged to death right in front of him!
But the flow continued, running through his fingers. As fast as he replaced the gauze pads, they became saturated. Tom was well-trained, but he felt helpless as he gazed at the innocent face. "Lord," he whispered, "it's such a waste for this child to die so young. Please heal her."
Suddenly Tom felt a presence at his side, and caught a glimpse of black shoes and grey pants. How had anyone gotten through the police line? Then this stranger bent, and gently laid his hand on the girl. Maybe he was a doctor, Tom thought; the deputies would have let a passing physician through. "Do you think she's going to make it?" Tom murmured, his eyes still focused on his task.
"She'll be okay." At the calm response, Tom looked up. But there was no one standing near him. Nor was anyone walking away from the scene. Where had the man gone?
It wasn't until after the ambulance left that Tom approached several firemen still standing guard. "Did any of you see where that guy went?" Tom asked.
The men frowned. "What guy?"
"Maybe he was a doctor. The man who came up and touched the girl while I was working on her."
"Impossible, Chief. We had this area completely blocked off."
"But he stood right next to me. I saw him."
The others shook their heads. "There was no one ever with that girl. No one but you."
Tom understood. More than one angel of mercy had been on duty tonight. And later, when the girl made a complete recovery, he wasn't the least bit surprised.