Northside Baptist to host first responder lunch

Published 3:00 am Sunday, May 20, 2018

It was Valentine’s Day 2011. Juanita Wilkes was seated on the bench inside Santa Fe waiting for a table. Then, suddenly, she died.

“Sudden cardiac death is what it’s called,” she said. “I didn’t have any pain, no warning. I just died. If it had not been for the first responders that God put in place, I would not be here today.”

Wilkes and her Women’s Missionary Union team at Northside Baptist Church will express their appreciation for the life-saving work of law enforcement officers with a free lunch for first responders from 11 a.m. to 2p.m. at the church fellowship hall.

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The WMU has been busy planning this reception for several weeks. The church membership is looking forward to the opportunity to say “thank you” to those who play such vital roles in keeping the Pike County community and its people safe and secure and providing emergency care in times of need, Wilkes said.

“We don’t express our appreciation to our first responders often enough,” Wilkes said. “If we said ‘thank you’ to every one of them every day, that would not be enough.”

A young waitress, who had recently completed a CPR class at Troy University, immediately responded when Wilkes collapsed. She had the equipment she needed in her car and she began CPR.

“The Troy Fire Department on George Wallace Drive responded in less than five minutes and the EMTs shocked my heart three times trying to get it beating again,” Wilkes said.

Then, almost immediately, an ambulance arrived from Troy Regional Medical Center and the paramedics shocked Wilkes’ heart another three times.

Her husband Jerry Wilkes said just before the ambulance arrived at TRMC, one of the paramedics said, “We’ve got a pulse.”

“It was about 10 minutes from the time Juanita experienced sudden cardiac death until her heart started beating again,” Wilkes said. “But the waitress and the first responders were giving her oxygen all that time they were doing CPR. They saved Juanita’s life.”

Teresa Grimes, hospital administrator, was there to meet the ambulance when it arrived. She stayed until after Wilkes’ family and friends arrived.

“People from several churches came, too, and they all prayed for me,” Wilkes said. “I don’t remember any of that and nothing for more than a week. But I know that God was not ready for me so he put people in place that could save my life.”

The young woman who first administered CPR was Destiny Gobin.

“Not only had she just completed the CPR course, her parents owned an ambulance service in Florida so she knew what to do,” Wilkes said. “God put her there. She was my destiny.

“Destiny, the Troy Fire Department, the paramedics, the hospital staff, had any one of them not been where they were when they were, I would not be here. That’s why I want to personally thank our Pike County first responders. All of us at Northside Baptist Church want to say ‘thank you’ to our first responders because they the ones that we entrust our homes, our loved ones and our own lives to in times of emergencies. We can’t thank them enough.”

The lunch will be served during the extended lunch hour to accommodate the schedules of the invited guests.

Wilkes said all police departments, fire departments and ambulance services, the sheriff’s department and the chaplains who serve the county are invited.

“We are preparing for 100 and we hope to have at least that many,” she said. “So many in our church have benefited from the services of these dedicated, caring people. The church membership is 100 percent involved because we thank each and every one of our first responders from the bottom of our hearts.”