Tuesday morning 5/24/16 I was heading back to my car after a two day hike on
the Appalachian Trial near the NY state border.
Suddenly my foot slipped and twisted and both bones in my lower right
leg snapped. I inspected my leg and foot
and could see that my foot was only dangling from the leg and there was no way
I could move on my own.
A wave of fear came over me knowing
that I was still three and a half miles from my car. I even said to myself, “You are in very big
trouble.” It was at that point that I
said, “I need to pray.” I said to God,
“There is absolutely nothing I can do to help myself. Even if I had a shoulder to lean on. I need a complete rescue. That’s what I am asking for. Amen”
I dialed 911 and from that moment on
the rest of my day consisted of God sending a steady stream of the most
wonderful and helpful people I could have imagined. The 911 dispatcher was a woman named Kelly
who was a Christian. She was not only
kind and calm and very reassuring but she was a total veteran as a 911
dispatcher. She asked me a few questions
and before I knew it she informed me that a rescue team had been assembled and
were on their way. In the mean time she
stayed with me on the phone answering all kinds of questions that I had. In the mean time a through hiker came named
Bill who was from my home town of Schenectady.
He was trained as an EMT and so he took my vital signs and filled out a
sheet of information for the first responders when they arrived. Kelly said, “Does he have a cell phone?” He responded “yes” and so she got his number
in case my phone went dead.
Pretty soon we heard shouts from the
rescue team coming through the woods and within an hour and 15 minutes they had
arrived. Christopher the EMT explained
that he needed to immobilize my leg but that after he did my pain would
drop. I told him I was a Christian and I
knew God was in control so I was totally ready.
That’s when he told me that he also was a believer and he then showed me
a scar and said God had brought him through an accident just like mine. We were instant friends. He set my leg and then sure enough my pain
dropped by half.
A nurse named Barbara had led the
search party and she was able to check all my vital signs again. I found out later that even though she was in
her 50s this was her passion and had led many such rescue missions in the
past. As a matter of fact, she was in
such good shape and took such a vigorous pace up the mountain that there were
several volunteers who needed to turn around.
Then a team of about 8 young firemen
loaded me into a metal stretcher that they referred to as “the basket”. (which I was glad to be in.) They boosted it up and then secured to the
underside a gigantic all-terrain wheel.
Chris explained, saying it was kind of like being on a unicycle. I didn’t know what to say. He went on to say, that this would allow the
firemen to roll me whenever the landscape allowed.
Then he explained that they had been
able to pinpoint my exact location using the cell phone and then using Google
maps were able to position an ambulance on the road at the closest possible
place to where I was. Therefore, we
would not be using a trail but going “off-road” straight over the side of the
1400 foot mountain down towards Greenwood Lake.
I said, “ok.”, and they handed me a red helmet and said “Let’s go.”
At first my knuckles were white as
they often needed to pass my basket hand to hand over a steep drop. But very quickly I began to see the level of
effort and dedication and care that these young firemen were taking to get me
down that mountain safely. Most of them
were in their early 20’s and a few were older.
It was humid and in the low 90’s and all of them were sweating like
crazy. As they made their way straight
down the mountain the level of my gratitude just continued to rise. What a wonderful and humbling thing it is to
get rescued. It crossed my mind, all of
them were in the middle of something when the distress call was issued. And every single one of them dropped what
they were doing in order to sprint up a mountain and then sweat like a horse to
carry me down.
When they finally loaded me into the
ambulance (which had backed up into someone’s driveway), I got one last chance
to look into their eyes and say “thank you so much”, before they closed the
ambulance doors. It was certainly one of
the most overwhelming moments of my life.
The ambulance driver Bob was the
father of one of the nurses in the rescue team.
He was willing to swing by my car on the way to the emergency room so I
could pick up my wallet. At that point I
got to give Chie a quick call and tell her I have some bad news. It felt good to be able to give answers to
all her questions. I knew God had
already done miracles.
At the hospital, the flood of
wonderful people did not stop. It was
not a busy day in the ER of St Anthony’s Community Hospital in Warwick NY so I
got constant attention from the whole staff.
The ER doctor named Eric ironically had also had a similar injury as
mine and was able to give me all kinds of information and answer many
questions. H e was also able to order to
pain killers for me. As soon as they
began to work he broke to me the bad news that both bones (tibia and fibula) in
the lower right leg were broken so he needed to pull on my foot in order to
line up the big bone and then put the leg in a splint. The technician Scott held my upper leg and
Dr. Eric pulled on the foot and lined up the bone. They took an X -ray and happily they got it
exactly right the first time.
Dr. Eric recommended that I get the
surgery needed right there at the hospital since they had a top notch
orthopedic surgeon. This was exactly
what I had hoped for. The surgeon’s name
was Dr. Juliano and the next day he performed the procedure to put a permanent
titanium rod into my tibia with four screws to hold it fast. (I’ll spare you the details on all that)
Thanks to the kindness of many
people in the church Chie was able to come up immediately and stay at a bed and
breakfast right across from the hospital.
When they were wheeling me back to my room after the surgery I could
hear her voice as she talked with the nurses.
(Music to my ears.) It felt to me
like nothing but miracles had happened from the moment I first prayed that
prayer on the mountain. I felt so
grateful to God.
The truth is God did not stop
speaking to me the whole time I was being rescued. I could sum up his message to me like
this. If there was any way that I could
have saved myself I would have done it.
But it was impossible. God
revealed to me in a way that touched the deepest place of my heart: In the same
way that I was completely incapable of saving myself physically and had to be
carried to safety in a basket, I am also completely unable to save myself
spiritually. My sinful nature is so
pervasive and my condition is so desperate that I am truly, (in every respect)
a basket case and only Christ is able to save me. Of course I knew this before but as each
detail of my dramatic rescue played out, my heart only swelled up bigger and
bigger with love for Jesus and what He has done for me.
The story does not end there. Now I am on crutches and need someone to do
everything for me and so I just sit here in amazement and watch as God overwhelms
me every single day with the love and care from the people of this church.(and
the Korean Church) Those who have
preached for me or taught Bible studies for me, led devotions for me at
fellowship night or prepared children’s sermons or led
worship for me on Sunday mornings, those who have cooked and brought food for
me, those who have called and sent cards to me, those who have cut my lawn,
Those who fixed my computer and those who visited and prayed. Those who have come to the house and vacuumed
and helped Chie with laundry, and those who have gone shopping for us, those
who have done favors for me, and sent gift cards and letters. Chie and I are both overwhelmed with your
love and your care.
I never would have chosen to have a
broken leg but I can say this: I never dreamed I would have a chance to see so
many people rush to bless us. (And what a thrill this has been) Even with tears I give my deepest thanks to
everyone of you. God has used you to
bless me beyond what you can imagine!
Click link below to see Pastor David's Letter to the Editor that was printed in The Warwick Advertiser