Sprains, Trains, and Helicopters

Everyone is safe and well.  Sometimes, it’s better to start with the conclusion before giving the details, and this is one of those days.  It was also a day that reminded me of Proverbs 27:1, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.”  Our Saturday in southern Poland started off with beautiful weather, meeting up with a group of young adults who had been invited by Daniel’s church to go hiking.  Daniel couldn’t join us because his wife was in labor – and we found out later that he and Gosia now have a healthy baby boy, Jeremiah Adam.  Our Polish hosts had planned a day that was a bit more elaborate than we had envisioned, including rock climbing, a competitive race between two castles, and roasting kielbasa in a bonfire.

By 11:00 we pulled into the parking lot of the national park, staring straight at the ruins of an old stone castle.  We packed up our gear and headed to the campsite a kilometer away, wending our way around the castle ruins, with alpine forest and large ourcroppings of rocks around us.  (The second castle, btw, was beautiful and in great condition, looking like something out of a Disney movie.)  We split into groups, and Dr. Harris (who teaches technical rock climbing and caving, and is trained as a first responder) went with the climbers to ensure that their equipment was in good shape, and he was impressed and gave it a thumbs up.  Meanwhile, Skylar was helping to collect wood for the fire when she twisted her ankle.  Dr. E. grabbed the first aid kit, checked out the ankle, and wrapped it with a cold compress (RICE – rest, ice, compression, elevate).  So Skylar was down for the day – not a serious injury, but one that needed rest.  After a bit of hiking, two of the four groups headed to the rock climbing area and took turns scaling an entry level rock face with proper climbing ropes and a good belaying system.

When we were almost done, we heard someone cry for help, and Dr. E. and one of our Polish companions sprinted up the trail to find that Hope had slipped off a low rock and was in pain bent over the rocks on her back.  Betty (trained as a nurse) had been nearby, and a Polish first responder from another climbing group soon joined us.  We got Dr. Harris, and the two first responders quickly assessed the situation and determined that we needed to have her seen by paramedics.  The paramedics arrived and decided that she needed to be put on a board and med-evac-ed by helicopter to the trauma center in Sosnowiek.  To make a long story short, Dr. E. helped Skylar walk back to the car while Dr. H. and Betty stayed with Hope and the paramedics got her into the helicopter, and the rest of our group carted our gear back to the vehicles.  Betty and Dr. E. drove about an hour to the hospital with two other students and met Hope in the ER, though they obviously arrived their much faster than we did.  After a thorough evaluation, she was released around dinner time with a very sore back but with no indication of serious injury.  Our communication and emergency plans worked well, and we were able to keep her family informed and contact our international insurance carrier to negotiate the details of her treatment.

Meanwhile, Don took care of the rest of the group and then had to run Dr. Harris to Katowice so he could catch a train to Warsaw for his flight to Lithuania (by way of Germany), in the morning.  Hence the title of the post… sprains, trains, and helicopters.

We have much to be thankful for today.  First, for the life of a precious baby boy; we thank God for Jeremiah, and are blessed that our work the other day will make life a little easier for this special family.  Second, we are grateful that Skylar and Hope are okay, and that medical care was readily available when needed.  The group handled the situations well.  We are now back in our hotel, ready for a good night’s sleep.  Today was a reminder, though, of how quickly life can change, of how we are always in need of God’s protection and the help of others.

So, from Poland, this is Dr. E. signing off, hopeful that we will have a much more typical blog post tomorrow.  May the Lord bless you and keep you, May the Lord make His face shine towards you, and grant you peace.

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