One of our recommended books is The Rescuer by Jason Sautel


One Firefighter’s Story of Courage, Darkness, and the Relentless Love That Saved Him

He helped save people every day—but he had no idea how to save himself.

Jason Sautel had it all. Confident in his abilities and trusted by his fellow firefighters, he was making a name for himself on the streets of Oakland, California. His adrenaline-fueled job even helped him forget the pain of his childhood—until the day he looked into the eyes of a jumper on the Bay Bridge and came face to face with a darkness he knew would take him down as well.

In the following months, a series of traumatic emergency calls—some successful,

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He helped save people every day—but he had no idea how to save himself.

Jason Sautel had it all. Confident in his abilities and trusted by his fellow firefighters, he was making a name for himself on the streets of Oakland, California. His adrenaline-fueled job even helped him forget the pain of his childhood—until the day he looked into the eyes of a jumper on the Bay Bridge and came face to face with a darkness he knew would take him down as well.

In the following months, a series of traumatic emergency calls—some successful, others impossible-to-forget failures—drove Jason deeper into depression. Even as he continued his lifesaving work, he realized he could never rescue everyone, and he had no idea how to save himself.

In the end, Jason was forced to confront the truth: only the relentless power of love could pull him back from his own deadly fall. Action-packed, spiritually honest, and surprisingly romantic, The Rescuer transports readers inside the pulse-pounding world of firefighting and into the heart of a man who needed to be broken before he could finally be made whole.

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  • Thomas Nelson
  • Hardcover
  • September 2020
  • 208 Pages
  • 9781400216475

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About Jason Sautel & D.R. Jacobsen

Jason Sautel is the author of The RescuerJason Sautel spent much of his early adulthood as a decorated firefighter in one of the toughest firehouses in the country and today shares Christ-centered stories and lessons from his time there to his 600,000+ Facebook followers. He loves his wife of sixteen years, Kristie, his four two-legged children, his two four-legged children, and appreciates God’s gifts of donuts, surfing, and Maui.


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“This book will change your life. Why? Because it is just so real, raw, vulnerable, provocative, honest, and visceral. Jason’s life and story cannot help but draw you in and transform you. What makes this book so powerful is that in the midst of all the struggles and danger, you cannot miss the beautiful story of redemption and hope. I am very happy to have read this book. You will be too!” —Daniel Fusco, pastor, television and radio host, author of Crazy Happy and Upward, Inward, Outward

“Incredibly raw . . . we repeatedly laughed and cried. . . . This book captures the harrowing and heart-wrenching life of a firefighter/first responder, and how he discovered that ultimately he was the one who needed to be rescued.” —Johnny Agar, author, motivational speaker, Under Armour ambassador

“Jason Sautel is the real deal. He is a real man with real stories about real transformation. Everything you read in this book comes from the soul of a person who lives life fully every step of the way.” —Lance C. Hahn, senior pastor, Bridgeway Christian Church, Roseville CA

“Jason’s testimony is honest, raw, and inspiring. His story will benefit first responders of all backgrounds by reminding them that life is possible after so much loss.” —Brandon Mattson, firefighter/paramedic

“Jason Sautel is one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met. At a time when good storytelling is hard to find, this guy’s testimony is a breath of fresh air. The Rescuer is quite a redemption tale, and it’s just the tip of the Sautel iceberg. Can’t wait to see what he does next.” —Rob Elliott, pastor

Discussion Questions

Chapter 1: A Bridge to Evil

1. What prompted you to read this book?

2. What are you hoping to learn or gain from reading this book?

3. What prior knowledge do you have of the life of paramedics and firefighters?

4. What have you used to numb emotional pain?

5. How would you describe the feeling of hopelessness to someone who has never experienced it before?

6. Have you ever felt powerless against fear and pain? If so, how did you overcome it?

Chapter 2: Whose Fault Was It?

1. Where is your home away from home? What gives you comfort there?

2. When do you feel the rush of adrenaline? How does that rush help you push aside fears and doubts?

3. How did you feel reading the passage that described the author’s experience in the burning house?

4. When have you had to push aside your emotions in order to complete a job?

5. When have you lashed out at someone because you were overwhelmed with all that you were experiencing physically, mentally, and emotionally?

6. That author states that he had a “closet of fear” that he carried with him. Where have you stored your fear?

7. When have you made promises to yourself that you didn’t have the power to keep? What were the results?

Chapter 3: The Familiar Darkness

1. Why does compassion often come with pain?

2. What painful pieces have you picked up in life, whether from your personal experiences or by helping others through theirs? What marks have they left on you?

3. When have you felt as though the work you did wasn’t enough?

4. When has your home felt more like a curse or a mockery of your emotions? What did you do during that time?

Chapter 4: Day Off

1. Where do you go when you need to be centered?

2. Why do we often feel as though we can’t share our pain with others?

3. How can it be harmful to keep your pain to yourself?

4. Have you ever felt as though you had a black hole inside you? If so, describe your experience.

Chapter 5: Apartment #312

1. Why is it important to share meals with those with whom you are close, whether family or coworkers?

2. What resources are available in your community for people who don’t have food, electricity, or other necessities?

3. Why is it sometimes difficult for us to help others without judging their circumstances?

4. Why is it important to help others without judgment?

Chapter 6: Mr. Wei’s Donuts and Chinese Cuisine

1. Who are the people in your community who are usually dismissed by others?

2. Have you had a conversation with someone whom other people typically avoid? If so, what was your experience? What surprised you about your conversation?

3. What vices do people often turn to in order to cope with mental illness? How can this cause them to lose their possessions and loved ones?

4. Has anyone thanked you for blessing them? How did it make you feel?

5. Who first told you about what it means to be a Christian? What did you think when you first heard about it?

6. Have you ever felt as though parts of the Bible weren’t reaching you? If so, what parts were they, and why do you think you had trouble absorbing them?

Chapter 7: Jaws of Life

1. When have you chased the wrong things? How long did it take you to realize it?

2. Why do you think assumptions can lead to death when responding to emergencies?

3. What affected you the most about reading this chapter?

Chapter 8: Dress Code

1. When has your body reacted physically to something you’ve experienced?

2. Why do you think we tend to relive our worst memories when we suffer from anxiety, depression, or fear?

3. What was your experience with church as a child? How has your perception of church changed over time?

4. What do you think prompts people to go to church for the first time?

5. What do you think might prevent some people from attending church?

6. When have you seen or experienced an unwelcome atmosphere in a church? How did it affect you?

7. What do you think churches can do to be more approachable and open to those who want to visit for the first time?

Chapter 9: Ready

1. What is your previous knowledge of suicide?

2. What kind of questions can you ask someone if you are worried about their mental health?

3. When have you heard the voice in your head insisting that you do something in particular? What was it you felt you were supposed to do, and why do you think you felt that way?

4. When has someone contacted you or entered your life at just the right moment? How did their presence change things for you?

Chapter 10: Mother’s Day

1. How is being alive different from fully living?

2. What is your status quo in life right now? What parts would you like to change?

3. Describe what your family was like as you were growing up. What are your best memories of them? Your worst?

4. Do you ever “check out” of conversations with certain people? If so, with whom? Is there a way you could repair the relationship in a healthy way?

Chapter 11: Alone

1. When have you felt the most alone?

2. Who have you seen set an example of serving others?

3. How do you want people to remember you? What changes do you need to make in order for that to happen?

4. Why do you think people try to hide their true selves away from the world, and what do they use to do so? Why can this be harmful?

Chapter 12: House of Love

1. Who in your life seems to have so much love that they can give it away freely? How does it make you feel to be around that person?

2. When have you been surprised by being comforted by someone?

3. Why is it important to remember that we are always able to help others learn about God, no matter the circumstances?

Chapter 13: Girl Time

1. Who in your life fills you with feelings of goodness when you are around them?

2. What are your experiences with truly falling in love?

3. How can joy help heal emotional wounds?

4. What brings you joy?

Chapter 14: Rescue

1. When have you been faced with two choices that both seemed less than ideal? How did you make your decision?

2. Have you had to disobey orders from someone in authority in order to do what you believed to be the right thing? If so, describe your experience.

3. Do you think you would voluntarily put your life at risk in order to rescue a stranger? Why or why not? If you already have a career that puts your life in danger regularly in order to save lives, how do you feel about it?

4. How does having something to look forward to help you get through difficult times? What are you looking forward to right now?

Chapter 15: First Date

1. When have you been praised for something you feel didn’t deserve praise?

2. Which of your relationships lift you up when you are feeling down?

3. If you’ve experienced depression, how would you explain the difference between depression and sadness?

4. Why is honesty and authenticity important in relationships?

Chapter 16: Hit and Running

1. Do you tend to follow rules or your heart?

2. When have you tried to guard yourself against feeling happy? Why did you feel it was necessary to protect yourself from it?

3. When have you felt the need to shield your loved ones from some of the worst things you’ve experienced? Why did you feel that it was best to keep the information to yourself?

Chapter 17: Uncharted Territory

1. When has someone’s love felt like medicine to you?

2. Why might accepting love be difficult for someone who is suffering from depression or mental illness?

3. If someone asked you where they should begin their quest to learn about Jesus, what would you tell them?

4. Who in your life shines with love and goodness from God? When have you witnessed others drawing near to them because they want to be near such goodness?

5. Why is it important to know that everyone has problems and issues to work through?

Chapter 18: The Firehouse and the World Outside

1. Have you had a near-death experience? How did it affect your faith?

2. How has God pursued you over the years? How has your relationship with him changed because of his work in your life?

3. Do you have a specific “time of life” when you realized that you were saved? If so, what prompted it?

4. How does it make you feel to know that God can save anyone no matter how many times they’ve made mistakes?

5. How does it make you feel to talk to others about God? Why do you feel that way?

6. What did you enjoy about this book?

7. What was the most difficult rescue story for you to read in this book, and why?

8. What did you learn from reading this book?




When a structure is on fire, you can see the danger and plan a way to fight it.

As the fire spreads from a pile of dirty rags to a wall, then from the wall to the roof, you can gauge how much time you have before the whole building goes up in flames. Most times when you arrive on scene, you can make a quick plan of attack and execute it with your team. You can deploy equipment and resources where they’ll do the most good. And, if the fire still grows, you can always call for additional alarms that will bring more fire engines and trucks.

But when a soul is on fire? How can a rescuer prevent a life from burning down?

As a veteran firefighter paramedic in Oakland, California, I was trained and equipped to deal with whatever emergency this screwed-up world decided to throw my way. I had been called to pull people from fires, to extinguish the flames . . . but I was slowly dying inside, and who would rescue me?

That was the question I never thought I’d be wrestling with so personally. I had never let anyone into my world long enough to offer me the help I needed. My days and nights were a never-ending cycle of bringing relief to others and stockpiling pain for myself.

I started fighting fires at eighteen as a volunteer in a small desert community in Southern California. Tenth grade was when school and me decided to go our separate ways, and when my high school class graduated, I watched the ceremony from across the street, sitting on top of my fire engine. I went from volunteering straight into paramedic school at nineteen. That took me to a paramedic ambulance company in San Bernardino, California, and within a few months I scored a job in Oakland as an Alameda County paramedic. A couple years later I passed the Oakland Fire Department’s entrance exam.

The entrance exam was rigorous—a written test, a verbal test, oral interview boards, psychological tests, strict medical exams, and background checks. Few made it through. Those of us who did weren’t better than anyone else, but maybe we knew how to suffer more. Then it was sixteen weeks at the training academy throwing ladders, pulling hoses, and running up the seven stories to the top of the training tower carrying every imaginable piece of heavy firefighting equipment, pausing only long enough to vomit. Graduation welcomed us into twelve months of probation before we became permanent members of Oakland Fire.

Our crew at Station 11 in West Oakland took pride in never making the job about us. Our job was to serve others. Period. With four hundred thousand residents packed together, there were plenty of opportunities for mayhem. Like scores of murders every year, not to mention countless shootings and stabbings where the victims lived to see another day. Men beat up women and each other. Kids were hurt. There were accidents of every imaginable kind: hit-and-runs, head-on collisions, trees blown over by gusty winds, electrocutions, heart attacks, chemical exposure . . . the list went on and on. The next rescue, the next call, the next chance to make a difference. That’s what we did as a team. Our job was to keep pushing.

There were four of us on my shift at Station 11, and two other shifts made sure the station was staffed 24/7. Cappy was our captain, Roger—we called him Rog—was our engineer/driver, and Jimmy was our firefighter, along with me. All of us were EMTs, plus I was a licensed paramedic. That meant I could administer medications and do advanced life support, and the EMTs would assist me. In a hospital, a surgeon is useless without a highly trained and supportive medical team, and it was the same with us in the field. One difference, though, was that the four of us needed to wear multiple hats and stay flexible, because we never knew what the streets might throw our way.

Each of us was there because we chose to be. Me and the guys were as hard as the place we served. We had to be if we didn’t want to get eaten alive. At the firehouse it was all fun and games, but when we rolled out the door on an emergency response, we transformed into stone-cold lifesavers.