Another Ten Seconds
Chapter 14: Which Path to Take?
by Jeff Rand
Mark Hunt rushed to the scene where John was pulled from the lake. Ten minutes under the ice rendered him unconscious and not breathing. Mark gave John two quick breaths. When he could not find a pulse, he immediately proceeded to administer chest compressions. Dan Bollman jumped into position to assist with mouth-to-mouth. Mark began counting his compressions. As he was about to count the fifth, Dan placed his mouth around John's lips, without using a mouth guard. Unfortunately the chest compressions produced effects other than that of starting John's heart, as they caused John's body to expel a watery vomit into Dan's face.
The messy business of CPR proceeded for several minutes more without success. At this point Mr. Oatley came forward with a respirator and defibrillator. Dan was delighted to be replaced by the respirator. Unfortunately the defibrillator malfunctioned and Mark had to continue the compressions manually.
While Dr. Bob arranged for emergency services at Lapeer Hospital, Lou Pezet brought his vehicle to the edge of Beaver Lake. Quickly they loaded John into the vehicle for transport to the hospital. Alan Wilson stepped forward to assist with the CPR during the trip to the hospital. Dr. Bob occupied the passenger's seat.
The pronouncement of death came at 11:11 a.m., shortly after the body arrived at the hospital. Dr. Bob recorded the location of the death as: 42 degrees, 57 minutes, 12 seconds north by 83 degrees, 15 minutes, 20 seconds west. Because the death resulted from a cold water drowning, Dr. Bob ordered that John be connected to life support, as a slim chance existed that he might be revived. The modern life support equipment included a neural stimulator, which could cause electrical activity in a brain, even in a case of declared brain death. In rare situations this provided the catalyst for sustained brain activity, where the patient was brought back to life. Although all of these survivors demonstrated extreme mental impairment, Dr. Bob still held hope that John might be one of them.
Alex Howey had followed the Pezet Ambulance to the hospital. Dr. Bob greeted Alex to tell him the bad news.
"I'm sorry your father is not currently alive," said Dr. Bob.
Alex knew that the CPR had not been successful, yet he inquired, "Currently?"
Dr. Bob said, "All brain activity ceased and John is officially dead, but due to the circumstances of his drowning I ordered that he be connected to a neural stimulator. The stimulator provides electrical activity in his brain. In the past there have been instances where this has been sufficient for the patient to resume brain activity on his own."
"You mean that people have been brought back to life?" said Alex.
"They have been revived from clinical death, thanks to modern technology."
"I can't imagine my father's brain being controlled by a machine. It just doesn't seem possible," retorted Alex.
The decision whether to continue Winter Camp prevailed upon the minds of the remaining Arrowmen. John's accident changed the outlook of the once cheerful group. Never before had Winter Camp lost a participant, let alone one of such standing. A somber attitude pervaded the group gathered in the BC building, as the Winter Campers discussed their future options. Ranger Osvath had joined the gathering, fulfilling his perceived role as the camp official in charge. For the first time in Winter Camp history, there was serious discussion relative to shortening the event. A group of the Winter Camp Elders, who would ultimately make the decision, gathered in information center. Osvath and Mick Belmont were the only ones present who had not attended at least 30 Winter Camps.
"Sooner or later, we knew that one of us would be dead. Is that enough reason to stop Winter Camp?" said Roger Horn.
"Perhaps not," said Ron Donohue. "But this is a result of a serious accident and has repercussions. Our actions will be watched closely."
"We also have an obligation to John's family," interjected Doug Wilson.
"Yes, I understand we do, but we also have an obligation to John," said Roger. "Didn't we all sign an agreement several years ago, that death should not be a reason to stop Winter Camp. I recall Jeff saying that he would remain, even if he were the last one left alive. Perhaps it was in response to prodding from Steve Donohue, as to who would ultimately have the most nights of camp, but I believe we all accepted its sincerity. Now we are truly being put to the test."
Jeff did not respond. The subject rekindled a memory of a disaster three years earlier. He and Roger were on a wilderness canoe trip in Canada's Northwest Territories. For two men in the late sixties, they tended to push their limits and had chosen a dangerous stretch of water very early in the season. They entered a series of rapids leading to Bashbrain Falls. The exceptional current brought them perilously close to the falls before they caught an eddy behind a boulder at its brink. Roger flung himself on the boulder to hold the boat. Unfortunately the action tipped the boat enough to catch a wave and it swamped. Roger lost hold of the canoe before it caught the current. In sheer desperation Jeff lunged for the boulder and caught Roger's outstretched arm. The boat continued over the 40-meter falls. The two men sat on the boulder about 10 meters from the closest shore with torrents of rushing water on each side. Six days they hoped and waited for other canoeists. The decision to leave the rock offered little chance of success, but to stay meant death from starvation or exposure. The two fashioned a rope from shreds of clothing and Roger's life jacket, with the hope that it would stretch to the shore. It was all or nothing, as they now had just one life jacket and a knife. Roger, being the heavier of the two, anchored himself to the boulder to hold the rope. Jeff, wearing the life jacket and rope, started across the river. The current was cold and powerful. The edge of the falls was less than 15 feet away and he had 30 feet of river to cross, doubtful that he could maintain himself if the strong current. His feet hit a few rocks, which slowed his movement towards the edge. Unfortunately it was not enough and he went over the falls, less then 10 feet from the shore. Roger held the makeshift rope with all his strength. Neither realized that sheer cliffs in the center of the river did not fully extend to the banks. The rope held Jeff long enough for him to grab a ledge of rock a few feet below the falls. Two weeks more of true survival were needed before the two hiked out of the wilderness.
Finally Ron Donohue spoke, "Roger, we might make all kinds of pacts for a theoretical future. Now we have a real situation and social responsibilities.
"We also have responsibilities to Winter Camp," said Mick Belmont. "I can't imagine life without it."
The discussion continued, with no decision clear. Finally, hoping to lighten it a bit, Osvath entered the discourse.
"Oh, I don't think we'll be able to refund any of your camp fees when you leave early," said Osvath.
"You asshole," shouted an enraged Mick Belmont, using the explicative for first time in his life.
"And John would not want us to lose our money. We owe it to him to stay," said Wilson.
Although Osvath's comment had been intended as a joke, it actually forced the elders to action. Winter Camp would continue as planned.
Dave Milon chose not to get involved in any of the discussions relative to the future of Winter Camp. The loss of John struck him hard and he did not want to participate in the trivial discourse. The majority of the group had gone outside for the Tarzan Lunch and he sat alone in the main room.
"Just Dew it," echoed the soda pop machine, sensing a potential Mountain Dew customer.
"Screw you!" shouted Dave, throwing a loaf of bread at the machine. The bread shattered the plastic screen on the front. "John is dead! Jack Conroy lost an eye and we could give a shit! It just doesn't make sense!"
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