It's Happening: A Bridgeport Fire Captain's Brush with an Angel; The Most Important Grab of his Life

By Julie Perine on April 11, 2017 from It’s Happening via Connect-Bridgeport.com

Editor’s Note: Randy and Rick Scott are among the finest men I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I know Rick through church. He and his wife Darlene are dedicated servants to the community in and out of uniform. They are selfless and humble and never pass up a chance to serve God through helping his people. Randy was the EMT who once rode in the back of an ambulance with me. I was a young mom and pretty scared. He was professional, knowledgeable and comforting. I always called him a guardian angel even back then. But in more recent years, he became even more of an angel to me – and to my entire extended family. He responded to a horrible accident, pulling a 19-year-old out of a truck. The driver, the only other occupant, had died on impact, Randy’s quick extrication was likely the difference of life or death for this boy. He put him in a helicopter, not knowing if he would make it to the hospital. That young man, Andrew McQuaid, went on to become my son-in-law, the father of my granddaughter and a true friend to my sons. We all love him so. Now you might understand how special this story is for me. And I think it will be to you, too.
 
Randy and Rick Scott began their fire and emergency careers when they were just 15 years old.
 
They grew up in Lumberport in the 1960s and early-70s; Rick, a blonde, and Randy, a redhead. Except for their matching outfits, they didn’t look so much alike, but they still took full advantage of the twin situation – one always trying to blame the other for whatever mischief he may have gotten into. The boys spent lazy summers swimming, boating and fishing at Lake Stoney and riding dirt bikes on country backroads.
 
Held annually at the Lumberport Fire Department, the Eagle District Fair was the place to be and when it rolled around in 1973, it brought more than fun and games. The fire whistle blew and off scurried firefighters to a brush fire on Jones Run. Rick and his friend Randy Barker were asked to temporarily tend the dime pitch at the ongoing fair.
 
“We said yeah, that we would do it – and two weeks later we joined the fire department,” Rick said. “My brother Randy joined a month later.”
 
The brothers developed a shared passion, which wasn’t so surprising. They always did like the same things; almost having insight into one another’s thoughts. After graduating from Lumberport High School, the brothers delved into the fire/EMS duties fulltime and over the last 40 years or so they have served North Central West Virginia communities; Rick at Lumberport before joining Clarksburg Fire Department, where he now serves as fire chief, and Randy spending several years in Maryland after leaving Lumberport, ultimately serving Bridgeport where he was fire captain before retiring in September of 2014.
 
Throughout the years – even when working miles, cities and states apart – the brothers were in some ways together as they made rescues.
 
“I would dream about being on a call, then find out he was on it,” Rick said. “One time I dreamed a girl was in an upside down car and I was trying to get her out. The next day Randy calls and tells me about an entrapment call he had been on; a girl trapped in an upside down car.”
 
Both responded to car accidents, fires and various other rescue situations. But despite the countless emergency calls to which they had responded, nothing prepared them for what happened in April of 2014. Randy was rushed to the hospital with a cecal volvulus, a rare condition of twisted, perforated bowels.
 
“It kills livestock and German shepherds. It happened to me and nearly killed me,” Randy said.
 
The original plan was to remove a small portion of intestines, but the situation went from bad to worse.
 
“They planned to take about two and a half feet, reconnect it and everything would be good,” Randy said. “But something went terribly wrong and separated in some way. By the time they figured out what was going on, it was a do or die situation. More than half my blood volume had emptied into my abdomen.”
 
Rick distinctly remembers getting the call that a second surgery was about to take place. He and his wife of 20-plus years, Darlene – a first responder he had met in EMT class – happened to be on their way to the hospital to temporarily relieve Randy’s wife Christy – a nurse.  
 
“We were already heading that way when we got a call that Randy was bleeding,” Rick said. “We knew what was going on – he was going into shock. We knew it wasn’t good.”
 
Shortly after they arrived at UHC, Randy was rushed to surgery.
 
His family waited.
 
“We had been in the waiting room probably 10 or 15 minutes when I was standing there – looking out the window – when suddenly everything got dark. I literally could not see,” Rick said. “Darlene walked over and I told her, ‘Something is very wrong.’”
 
The brothers don’t know for sure, but Randy believes it was perhaps that moment during his surgery - when Rick felt his twin brother’s brush with death – that he experienced something that changed him forever. He believes he encountered an angel.
 
“I was tumbling through space – like in a cheesy NASA movie – with every rotation lasting like a minute and excruciating pain washing over me from my head to my feet,” Randy explained. “I cried out to God and suddenly realized I was in a white place and saw a huge right hand come out to me from what I perceived to be an angel. There was no halo, but it was magnificently beautiful – like a beautiful girl, but for some reason my perception was it was a male angel. I’m 6’ 1 and this thing must have been 10 feet tall. I was upside down – reaching out and thinking this was the most important grab of my life. I caught the angel’s right hand and he pulled me into his chest. I remembering breathing a huge sigh of relief - and the pain stopped.”
 
The surgery had been successful and Randy beat the odds. An additional 13 and a half feet of intestines had been removed.
 
“He was septic and so hemodynamically unstable that they couldn’t even close him up,” Rick said. “They left him open for four days before he was stable enough to put him back together.”
 
When Randy finally started to come to and speak, he talked about how he had tumbled through space and caught the angel’s hand.
To this day, it brings him to tears to talk about it. And though he was left with constant pain and a very different lifestyle to which he was accustomed, Randy said he has been left with an inner peace to which nothing can compare.
 
In good physical shape and weighing a strapping 195 pounds, Randy was reduced to 155 pounds, left with a spinal cord injury, short bowel syndrome and severe neuropathic nerve pain. He never returned to work, but returned to Bridgeport Fire Station one more time – in his dress blues – for a retirement sendoff. Though it was a struggle, he regained much of his weight. He exceeded his prognosis.
 
Randy and Christy moved to Florida – to Ormond-by-the-Sea in Volusia County – where the warmth of the southern sunshine helps ease the constant pain.
 
It’s a little ironic that he wound up there, he said.
 
“It was in 1976 that Randy Barker and I went to Disneyworld to get jobs and find fame. After a couple weeks, we got homesick and went home,” he said. “But we were walking on the beach one day, contemplating the future as only 19-year-olds can do when we realized we had walked a couple miles and were trying to figure out where we were. We looked up and saw the sign, ‘Ormond-by-the-Sea.’ It seems almost prophetic that I ended up here.”
 
Rick said - hands down - that his brother is the best firefighter and rescuer with whom he has ever worked or seen in action.
“What a loss to lose Randy Scott out of this business,” he said.
 
The Scott brothers still have a shared passion for fire and emergency rescue – and they still have that ‘twin thing’ going on.
But there’s so much more.
 
They both are thankful for family and friends who saw them through the ordeal and mostly for their shared faith in God – and his hand always being upon them regardless how physically far apart they are.
 
“I’m still in a lot of pain and I still have issues,” Randy said, “but I’m lucky to be alive – still on the planet.”
 
Julie Perine can be reached at 304-848-7200, ext. 2, at julie@connect-bridgeport.com or follow @JuliePerine on Twitter.
 
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