Two miles into her hike, Jessica could finally see the ridge line up ahead. From there, she would have an amazing view of the valley below.
She heard her two dogs barking. A few strides later, she had her first glimpse of the clearing at the top of the ridge, and was surprised to see the dogs surrounding a man who was sitting cross-legged on a big boulder. Their tails were wagging enthusiastically, so she decided to trust their instincts.
“Hey,” the man said with a big grin, “You found my secret hiding place.”
“I didn’t mean to bother you,” Jessica responded.
“No worries, I just finished meditating. I’m Jake.”
“Jessica,” she said, shaking his hand.
She looked out over the vista, which stretched for dozens of miles. Nothing but wilderness and blue skies. Heaven.
“It’s great that you meditate. I’ve tried it off and on.”
“It’s part of my job, literally. We’re required to meditate and exercise consistently.”
Jessica looked back at Jake. He was about 30, lean and strong, with close-cropped hair. She couldn’t figure out what his line of work was, so she asked, “What sort of job requires meditation?”
“Pre Mergency? Like before an emergency?”
Jake smiled. He liked explaining his job, especially since less than 100 people in the world had so far been trained to do it.
“I’m part of a test program in Minneapolis where we respond to potential medical emergencies before they happen. The meditation and exercise requirement is because we’re constantly showing up on people’s doorsteps and telling them they are just minutes away from a heart attack or other life-threatening problem. We need to project calm assertive energy, or otherwise the person might freak and die.”
Jessica narrowed her eyes. She was trying to decide if he was being sincere, or putting her on. But he really did project calm and assertive energy, so she decided to believe him.
“How do you know someone is about to face an emergency?”
“Lots of ways. We have almost two dozen wireless biosensors that monitor heart rate, pulse, and other vital signs. With elderly patients, we monitor movement – movement is good, by the way. We use different sensors for different patients. Over 35,000 patients are enrolled in the program, ranging from the very sick to some who are in better shape than you or me.”
“Yes way. All the signals go into an automated center, and when anything varies from normal, someone like me goes out to check. I’m somewhere between an emergency medic and God.”
Jessica took a moment to digest this. She imagined a middle-aged man sitting in a big easy chair, rubbing his chest to wish away indigestion, when the doorbell rings. Jake is at the door and says something like: you’re not going to rub away that pain; let’s get you to the hospital and stop that heart attack before it happens.
“Why do you say God?” she asked.
“In the past three months, I’ve saved twelve people who most likely would have died if I hadn’t rang their bell. One was a mother who gave birth three weeks later; she was going to name her child after me, but it turned out to be a girl. In most of the cases, the person didn’t even know anything was wrong. It sure feels like divine intervention.”
Jessica looked out over the valley. She couldn’t help wondering if she had what it takes to play God, too.