Lending an Ear, Saving a Life

January 31, 2023

Studies have shown that, just by being present and being willing to hear a person openly talk about their self-destructive thoughts, you can help an individual chart a new course and make positive changes in their life.

That was the case for John Brooks and Daniel Yandell, AMR Basic Life Support EMS professionals based out of Vancouver, Washington, who, on one afternoon in late October 2022, prevented a patient from attempting suicide. 

It happened when Brooks and Yandell decided to stop at a McDonald’s for lunch. While waiting for their food, a person who was eating nearby approached them, explaining their mental health issues and sharing that they were contemplating suicide. 

That’s when Yandell sat and talked with the individual, listening, empathizing and, eventually, trying to connect the person with resources that could assist. The dialogue between Yandell and the individual proved to be extremely beneficial: so much so that the person would go on to request to be transported to a hospital by ambulance for further help.

Brooks and Yandell complied and called for an Advanced Life Support (ALS) crew to pick up the individual. And according to the ALS crew who responded to their call, if it hadn’t been for Brooks and Yandell’s intervention, the patient’s meal at McDonald’s would have been their last as the individual was planning on jumping into traffic to commit suicide. 

So, what exactly was it that first attracted the patient to Brooks and Yandell at that busy fast-food restaurant? Why did the patient choose them to talk to out of all the people there? Was it their EMS uniforms? Did their presence subconsciously signify a sense of safety and reliable help? Was it their demeanor; did they appear approachable? We may never know the exact reason, but one thing is for sure: Brooks and Yandell saved a life… they did it over lunch … and they did it by listening.

One simple act of kindness, one simple act of non-judgmental caring and connecting a person to help — that’s all it took to change an individual’s mind from making a devastating and permanent decision to a short-term problem. 

*The article’s content is reproduced from the January 2023 edition of Parascope, the monthly publication of AMR Northwest. If you or someone you know is facing an emotional breakdown, please call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org to connect with a trained mental health professional who can provide immediate support and intervention. 


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