So, I got up early and met with the hiking group, as usual. Gorgeous day, with bright sunny skies. Our Fearless Leader guided us out to a park near Westchester, and after the usual orienteering speech, we set out. It was cool and quiet, very leafy, and promised to be a wonderful day.
We reached the first ridge, all of us chatting easily, when suddenly Fearless Leader stumbled on the path.
Then it was one of the moments where time just stands still — the rest of the group agrees this took perhaps two seconds, but it felt like forever — as he staggered sideways, his face turning white and blank, and then just fell, utterly limp, headfirst into a rock.
Initial reaction, which again took maybe one second but felt like forever: all of us standing shock-still, repeating, “Oh, my God. Fearless Leader? Oh, my God.”
It takes that second for your brain to wrap your mind around the new circumstances. Five seconds ago, we were walking along a shady path with a completely chatty, alert guide; now we were on a path in a park that we’d been warned was difficult to navigate, with a guide who was unconscious and had been even before he smashed his skull against a stone. Out of cell phone range. What to do?
Luckily, two women there either had had first-aid training or were remarkably clear of mind, as they quickly removed his glasses and started getting his backpack off his back. I knew there was zero I could do there, so I said I’d go back to the beginning of the trail; we’d seen some campers nearby and thought they could maybe get help, or that down there we might get reception.
Three of us set out, one of whom fortunately was a runner, who quickly left us in the dust. Another hiker (Eva) and I just kept hurrying down. The part that’s going to haunt me for a long time was about five minutes into this, when we heard the hikers who had stayed all begin to scream. We just hurried faster.
The runner (Adae, though I am guessing at spelling) managed to reach another hiker who happened to be a doctor, who then went past us on his way to help. We hung around for the ambulance, at which point we were reunited with the rest of the party; it turned out that, while we were going for help, Fearless Leader had briefly stopped breathing and turned blue (cue screams). Had he had a stroke? Was he about to die?
We went to the hospital and found out that, apparently, Fearless Leader was beginning to regain his wits and was answering questions appropriately, joking with the people who went in the ambulance with him, etc. We were immensely relieved. The kind volunteers at the Mt. Kisco hospital drove us to the Metro North station so we could return to Manhattan.
In brief: No hike due to emergency, in which I was mostly useless. But it has at least inspired me to find and take a CPR/first aid course — you really never do know.