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 Life saving experience of Har-Ki-Dun Trek

Date: Nov. 1992

I am a member of the prestigious Bombay Natural History Society(BNHS). In Oct 1992 BNHS had organized a trek to Har-Ki-Dun, Garhwal, Himalaya, which was my 1st Himalayan trek. A guide from Dehradun Mr. Manoj Wilson and myself dared to do search and rescue operation in the night at 22:00 hours while saving Mr. Jacob.

Mr. Jacob hails from Dehradun and supposed to share his knowledge of "Flora" and "Fauna" with us, when he fell down in the stream of river Yamuna near the village Mori while crossing a wooden Himalayan rope bridge on his way to Mori's forest rest house. The rest house was our destination of that day. Mr. Jacob was literally unconscious for almost 30 minutes.

It took us 15 minutes to search him with torch on the banks of the river which was 25-30 feet below road level. A single nylon rope which I normally used to carry for safety in Sahyadri treks(loca), the same one I carried for this trek and fortunately used for this night search operation to keep Manoj and myself in the loop in the dark untill we found the casualty. Luckily Jacob's small torch was on at one corner of the rock which helped us to identify him within less time. Since Manoj was a local person we both decided that he should leave the place to get some more people from the village approx. 1 km away to take the casualty(Mr. Jacob) properly to nearby village hospital while I stay back.

When Manoj left us it was a horrible experience for me to survive untill the time the rescue team arrived at the site to carry the casualty. Mr. Jacob was 68 years' old at that time. He was bald and dark in complexion. I could only see his eyes in the night. Since he was unconscious due to shock, the immediate task was to make him regain consciousness and keep him warm untill others arrived. I had learnt basic First-Aid recently before this incident and that this was right opportunity for me to display the courage and provide necessary first aid. I utilized my fresh learning practically to bring him in the conscious state. After few minutes he was able to speak in whispers which was a relaxing scene for me. His whispers were not clear to be understood and after many repetitions I was able to understand what he had said. I was amazed that he had no single teeth in his mouth and that had caused him to speak that way. He was asking for his dentures for better communication!

It was not possible to find his dentures in the night since his fall line was of 25-30 feet from road to stream vertically with shrubs and bushes. He fell down due to insufficient light from the road to his left where the valley was. Right side of the road was hilled.  He was carrying a small torch of two pencil cells. He left the bridge back where we was supposed to take left turn to reach the Mori forest house. Next to the bridge after 10 steps ahead he had fallen down. We analyzed that he must have had a 25 feet down fall with first fall of 10 feet from a slippery boulder and then tumbling down to the stream and stuck between two big boulders. We were thinking how it was possible to fall without a drop of a blood. But it took no time for us to find where exactly things went wrong for him when we were trying to evacuate him from the valley. He had great pain in his backbone and hence Manoj had also brought a chair from the village to carry Mr. Jacob to the roadside. We tied his body alongwith the chair in a sitting position to avoid further dislocation of his bones.

We thanked the Hospital members, who helped him for quick medication on site. She told that casualty had to be admitted as early as possible to a hospital since their could be heavy internal fracture of his bones or internal bleeding.

So we hired a jeep from Mori village and transferred him to the hospital which was 2 km away from the accident site. Next day I visited the accident site to search for Jacob's dentures and it was his good luck that they were found. Then I visited him to the hospital to give his dentures. As expected he could not recognize me initially. Later after introduction he blessed me. That blessing was my achievement and thought my trek was over, I mean no need to do further venture.  But still, since it was my first ever Himalayan trek I recharged my whole body with the joy of achievement.

Later our deputy leader who was with him communicated his residence and then prepared to shift Mr. Jacob to the Dehradun hospital.

I cannot forget this experience ever in my life.

Rajan
For more information on Har-Ki-Dun trek mail me at rajanr@bhramanti.com
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