It was twelve years ago this weekend that I realised that even ordinary-seeming mishaps on country walks can have very unfortunate consequences …
SOS Air Ambulance
March 20th, 2011
Poor Micheline. Her pain, her distress was our Sunday Soap Opera.
We’d gone walking with our Rando del’Aubo friends, near Nébias again. We’d yomped up a mountainside, two hours of it, and were looking forward to lunch in – oooh, maybe ten minutes. That’s when Micheline fell over a tree root.
It was bad. Very bad. Broken ankle? Knee? We still don’t know. Anny, who has GPS, ran off to find some kind of reception for her mobile, so she could ring emergency services, and give them our exact reference.
Pretty quickly, it became exciting. We were fairly inaccessible, though not as badly so as we might have been, considering we were almost at the top of a (smallish) mountain: because there was, for the first time that morning, open land nearby. A bright red ambulance service 4×4 came into view, then an ambulance, tossing about on the rutted track. The sapeurs pompiers had to walk down into the woods, carrying all their equipment and a stretcher, to see Micheline, who was now in quite a lot of pain. Then – wow! A helicopter air ambulance hovered overhead, looking for a landing spot.
The pictures show the efficient and organised crew. (11 of them, sapeurs pompiers, nurses, pilot) doing what they had to do in muddy, dirty conditions to get Micheline sedated and sorted and ready to be air-lifted to Carcassonne Hospital. They don’t show the 4×4 being ignominiously towed out of the mud by a local farmer.
Despite our compassion for Micheline and the acute pain and discomfort she was in, we were quietly excited to be part of such a drama, the first apparently, in Rando del’Aubo’s long history of weekend walks. No news from Micheline yet: but she won’t be at work tomorrow.
That was all I wrote in the immediate aftermath of the accident. In fact, Micheline -who worked in a shop – was never fit enough to return to an on-your-feet-all-day job. The French Ramblers’ Association argued for months about whose insurance should pick up the tab for the helicopter call-out. It was all a sorry mess, and I’ve thought twice since then about venturing to out-of-the-way places for a solitary walk.
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