Emmys continue Escape Fire buzz


I am among those rooting for the Emmy nominated, film festival decorated documentary, Escape Fire: the Fight to Rescue American Healthcare. On September 30th the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences will be handing out Emmy awards in 43 categories including news and documentary.

The premise of an ‘escape fire’ came about on a tragic August day in 1949.  The film begins with the story of a group of 16 firefighters ambushed by a wildfire in the Montana wilderness.  One of them, Wagner (Wag) Dodge realized the fire was moving faster than a man could run.  He decided to light a fire in the dry brush that would be large enough to create a circle that the men could stand in for protection.  Most thought the idea bizarre and refused to join Wag.  While those inside the ‘escape fire’ were safe, 13 others perished. The film points to how difficult it is for some to let go of old ways of dealing with illness or incapacity and accept a possibly life saving innovation.

The film is remarkable because it is solution oriented. It follows several patients as they leave “ill care and overmedicated treatment” for some already established – though somewhat ignored – “well-care” methods.  And this documentary records that for first time in their search for health, they find renewal and healing!

As a pre-med student, I had such an ‘escape fire’ moment.  At the recommendation of an insurance adjuster, I made a visit to our family physician for x-rays before signing off on a settlement with a driver that had struck my car.  The impact had knocked me unconscious. When I awoke, finding myself unable to move, my first thought was not fearful.  It was to pray – which in that moment was for me to ponder a passage from the Bible rather than the immediate problem of incapacity.

Shortly I felt peaceful and my head gently lifted off my chest.  It was so natural, I actually thought that I had not been seriously injured.  But my doctor pointed out that his x-rays showed a white ridge on my neck vertebrae where the bone had mended!  He told me I would not feel the effects of this accident for the rest of my life.  And the intervening 40 years have proved his prognosis true.

Sitting among several hundred doctors, professors, and students at the Yale Medical School’s 2012 screening of Escape Fire as a practitioner of Christian Science (a nonmedical provider), I was heartened by the audible, positive audience response through out the film.  They were  certainly open to healing through what is not considered traditional health care.

In answering the questions of the Forest Service Review Board as to why he took the actions he did, Wag stated that he had never heard of such a fire (now known as an escape fire) being set. It had just seemed logical to him.  Significantly, Escape Fire shares some logical remedies for better health outcomes occurring in our midst. And perhaps opens the conversation for divine help that is yet to be understood.

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