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Many years had passed since the first time I saved someone’s life and in the meantime I had many other patients. Still, one of the most incredible stories in my life was again connected with water...

One freezing day in January the Central Rescue Station of the Jura Mountain Rescue Team in Podlesice received information that a man fell into a blowhole on a frozen pond in Przyłubsko.

Together with the other rescuer, my friend Robert Zamojski called Rudi, we ran to the Mountain Rescue Land Rover and with the siren on, we were soon on our way. When we got there, we saw footprints leading into the middle of the pond and disappearing on the dark part of ice, where a blowhole with a heat sticking out of it could be seen.

The ice was cracking, as if warning us of the danger, as we were crawling with a rescue stretcher towards the blowhole. The man in the water was in his 70s, dressed in a thick, quilted coat soaked with water and gloves. He was stiff from cold. He was holding on to the ice, with everything apart from his head and arms, covered in the half-frozen water.

Luckily, we were equipped in a special, American, mesh rescue stretcher with a floating collar. Our only chance was to pull the elderly man from the water and into the stretcher. We knew that if he slid from our frozen hands into the water and under the ice, we would not be able to help him anymore. The cracking ice reminded us all the time that we could soon be in a similar position. We were most concentrated because of determination, fear and the need to help a dying person. We were so close that I could see his frozen face and terrified eyes that cried for help.

It was constantly in my mind that we only had one chance of getting him out. I grabbed him on his arm and pulled with all my force into the floating stretcher.

Suddenly, I heard a crack and his arm was left in my hand!

Oh God! – I thought irrationally – I had torn his hand off!

But the cracking of ice gave us no time to analyse the situation. We quickly moved away from the dangerous ice, pulling the stretcher with all the force we had left.

Only when we were on a safe ground I had a look at the torn hand.

Dear God! It was an artificial one!

It came out that the man was disabled and had an artificial limb fastened to his torso with leather straps. On it, he wore the coat and a glove. When we pulled him out with a strong jerk, we tore the leather straps with which it was fastened!

What a relief... Suddenly, I lost all my energy.

Wet from exhaustion and breathing heavily in the cold air, I was sitting on the snow and looking apathetically how the gathered people were helping doctors to pack the man into the ambulance, with one of his hands hanging loosely...





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