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"A PERSON THAT SAVED AT LEAST ONE LIFE WAS NOT BORN FOR NOTHING"

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TOWER

The castle in Bobolice, nowadays beautifully restored by the Lasecki family, towers over the surrounding Jura. It is a place that witnessed many dark stories, but also well-known, dramatic events...

It should be explained that the castle, after years of being a proud seat of the local nobility, was devastated by the enemies’ artillery during the Swedish Deluge and during the next hundreds of years it gradually fell into ruin.

 

Those fantastic and gloomy ruins were an ideal setting for legends that grandmothers would tell their grandchildren on long evenings... There was, for example, a legend about a medieval ghost, called White Lady, which was the ghost of a faithful wife, walled up alive by her sickly jealous husband, a local nobleman... There was also a legend about two brothers, one of whom was a king’s prefect while the other was a highwayman, who fought each other to death...

 

But I would like to tell you a story of a dramatic event that took place in this castle not such a long time ago – in the early 90s, before the castle has been rebuilt...

 

Those were the beginnings of mountain rescue in  Jura, organised by a group of volunteers passionate about climbing and rescue. We had hardly any equipment: an old UAZ, a few ropes and some private climbing gear. We were financing our own actions and I was paying for petrol and other things with my family’s money. We were just a group of enthusiastic rescuers...

 

We organised voluntary duties (with no support from anyone) in military, tarpaulin tents put up in the mountaineering campsite Tabor in Lgotka, near Podlesice. There were rescuers stationing there from spring till autumn, which meant that they arrived just after the snow had melted and left when water in the camp froze and was not available for drinking or washing oneself...

 

But at the time of accident it was April or May. Trees and fields were covered with fresh green, the smell of spring was overwhelming, the Jurassic limestone rocks were beautifully white. A warm and sunny day was nearly over. I was then on duty with my wife Irena (known among her friends as Szarotka). We were tired after the whole day outside. Our adult sons were somewhere out, rock climbing with the other rescuers. Everything was so silent that a humming of insects was perfectly audible.

After having some rest we were about to start a bonfire, peel some potatoes and cook a huge pot of soup for everyone. But then our emergency  telephone rang. It was a Nokia, big as a brick, that because of lack of signal functioned only thanks to a tall antenna mounted on a pole; and at that time it was as expensive as a car...

Still, that telephone was extremely important as it connected us to the outside world. At that time it was a call from an ambulance service in Myszków reporting that a girl fell from the castle in Bobolice...

 

We assumed that a person falling down from a castle usually lands at its bottom, so we packed splints, a first aid kit and a traditional, military stretcher into our off-road ambulance (at that time an old UAZ); and so we went...

 

To our surprise, the car started without problems and we speeded to Bobolice. Speeded – that’s quite a relative description as our old UAZ driving in the direction of Zarki, at the little hill by the hotel Ostaniec reached the incredible speed of 40km/h... However, it has to be said that the car was very efficient in off-road conditions and it enabled us to reach destinations that were inaccessible to Nysa or Polonez ambulances which were definitely quicker on the roads.

 

When we reached the destination it came out that although the report said she fell from the castle it does not necessarily mean that she landed at its bottom...

 

The teenage girl, dressed up in a bright yellow jacket, had climbed up to the top of the tower, supposedly to mock her friends, at whom she had been throwing gravel. She had suddenly slipped or stumbled and fallen down. As she fell to the north-west side of the castle she crushed her body on a monadnock and was prevented from falling further down by a tree that grew in one of the cracks of the rock on which the castle had been built...

 

In this way her crushed body was hung on a tree, a couple of storeys above the ground. The girl was highly dazed and excited. She was wheezing and moving in an uncoordinated way, which could have made her fall from the tree and crush at the bottom of the rock; she would have no chance to survive that...

 

We were taken aback but the situation, so different from the reported one. What made it even more problematic, was that at the beginnings of the search and rescue in Jura we usually took only the necessary equipment with us, so in this case we had no mountaineering gear in the car, as we considered it useless in the reported circumstances...

At the same time the crushed girl was high above the ground, moving in convulsions, and could have fallen down any minute. An immediate action was the only way to save her.

 

Without much ado, small and thin Szarotka climbed up the rock and the old castle walls to the unconscious girl, without any ropes to protect her, just with the first aid kit. She made herself a safe spot between the wall and one of the tree branches and was fully determined to prevent the girl from falling down, at the same time trying to control her bleeding and her life functions.

 

In the meantime I rushed to the car and was back on my way to the camp to bring the necessary climbing gear and to fetch the other rescuers who were climbing near Góra Zborów (at that time we had only one mobile phone, which I had with me, and one Russian off-road car, which I was driving, so there was absolutely no other way to let the rescuers know and to transport them to Bobolice).

 

Of course, in accordane with the Murphy’s law, everything that can go wrong, will go wrong... That time it was the emergency signal of the car that broke down, so without it I was forced to drive slowly in the long queue of cars, driven by tourists that enjoyed the weekend and the beauty of Jura. The speed we had reached on the way to Bobolice  seemed a racing speed...

 

Finally, I arrived in the vicinity of Krucze Skały, where after the long and irritating way to Podlesice, our slow UAZ could show his usefulness – I traversed the trenches and stones on the path to Góra Zborów, inaccessible to other cars. There I called for other rescuers: Adler, Tiger, Rudi, Lego, Sebestian, Tomek and a few others. One of them stayed there to collect the belongings and gear while the others jumped into the car and we rushed to the camp to get the necessary equipment.

 

We took the mountaineering gear from the camp as well as our first high altitude stretcher (bought the previous day in Explorer in Bielsko-Biała), and we turned back to the castle. As it was late evening and most tourists were back home, the road was more empty and we could drive quite fast. After half an hour we were back in Bobolice.

 

In the meantime it became dark. The notched ruins of the old defence castle looked dark and gloomy on the background of the evening sky. Despite the darkness, there were crowds of tourists and local people looking at the accident and that didn’t help us in organising the rescue. High, on the dark and gloomy walls there was Szarotka, holding onto the tree that grew on the rocks. She was all numb but still holding the unconscious and injured girl (and in this way protecting her from the tragic fall), with all the power she had left.

 

We didn’t have much time. The injured girl could fall any second. The rescuers immediately climbed up the castle walls and descended on the ropes with the stretcher to get the injured girl. They had to be extremely careful in placing the casualty on the stretcher so that she would not fall while tossing around.

 

The girl looked awful. She was all covered in blood and mud, wet from urine, unconscious and in a strange position which is typical of people with an injured spine. The rescuers put her into a KED vest to prevent her spinal cord from further injuries  and immobilised her in the stretcher. At that moment they finally freed Szarotka from holding the girl, after nearly three hours of hard work in an extreme position. In complete darkness they slowly descended to the bottom of the wall and then, with the help of the ropes, they went down the steep hill on which the castle had been built.

 

There were some policemen there with their GAZ car. They drove as high up the hill as the car enabled them to and tried to light the place of the accident with floodlights. The crew of the ambulance from Myszków waited for the rescuers to transport the casualty down. The girl was moved from the high-altitude stretcher to the ambulance one, quickly examined by the doctor and prepared for the transport. Soon the Nysa ambulance was on its way to the hospital, marking its way with emergency signals...

 

Only then one of the rescuers took a rope and climbed up to numb Szarotka to help her leave her uncomfortable position. She had no mountaineering gear with her and after such a long time in one position she had difficulties moving... Only when they were both back on the ground safely we could relax.

 

We packed the mountaineering equipment in the darkness. The mudded and stained with blood stretcher was thrown into the car to be washed back in the camp...

 

Then the dark clouds came and it became totally dark. The wind, whistling in the tree branches and in the echoing ruins of the castle, was getting stronger and stronger. The weather was changing for worse...

 

When we arrived back in the camp it was past midnight. We sat together around a great pine table and had some tea. The wind was tearing apart the flames of the bonfire lit in front of the shelter, blowing the sparkles into the darkness. Despite being deadly tired, we felt strong and powerful as never before. We managed to succeed in an extremely difficult task...

That evening was a test. It proved that the presence of mountain rescuers in Jura was well motivated. It proved that lives depended on that.

 

***

 

The next day we received stunning news from the hospital in Myszków – the girl had her bones broken in 17 places! (i.e. spine, pelvis, skull...) It seemed that it was not a living creature but a fragile figure of a porcelain princess that fell from the castle tower and broke.

However, the second part of the news was even more surprising – miraculously, the teenager had not been paralysed!

 

I have to admit we felt extremely proud then.

 

***

 

Around midday the next day we received a phone call. Those were very honest scouts who reported that while carrying out an orienteering game in Bobolice  they found a first aid kit that belonged to us. They found the mudded kit on the bottom of the castle walls, just below the place where Szarotka struggled alone to save the life of a girl hanging on a branch of a tree that grew in one of the cracks of the castle walls...

 

***

 

Nearly half a year later, when the autumn was nearly over, our camp was visited by an elegant car. We went to the gate, expecting to hear about another accident. However, an elderly man and a beautiful, blond girl with long legs went out of the car. The girl was holding a bouquet of violets...

 

The man, seemingly the girl’s father, made sure he was talking to the search and rescue group and then asked us: Do you remember my daughter? We denied, not knowing what the young lady wanted from one of us. But the man continued: My daughter is the girl from Bobolice...

 

Oh yes! We looked at the girl in disbelief. By no way did she look like the unfortunate, mudded and covered in blood creature by the castle...

 

The father interrupted the silence again, now talking to the girl: Do you have something to say Zosia? Yes­ – said the girl – I want to thank you so much because it’s thanks to you that I’m alive and that I can walk! Dear rescuers, those flowers are for you...

 

*

 

Tiny Szarotka stood behind us, in the shade...

In the happy confusion no one remembered about her...

Comments:


 

 

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2014-08-08 15:11:10, Erdinc

Injured trials guy here. I wtnaed to give my thanks to the whole team that did such a great job getting me to saftey. its a fantastic profesional crew you guys have. Jarrett

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