Katie had just poured me a piping hot mug of coffee, and I was checking our email, like most mornings here at the marina, awaiting the news of our imminent employment. Before my first sip Katie directed my attention to our megayacht neighbor a few slips down. I looked over to see four men crouched above somebody lying on the ground.
I have had a fair bit of training in medical first response, so I hurried over to see what had happened. A young Mexican man, in his early twenties, lay there, eyes open and breathing, but completely unresponsive. The men around him said that they thought he’d slipped in the shower, and they had called the ambulance and were stabilizing his spine. I recommended treating for shock as well, as a precaution, and when I returned with another blanket and a pad to elevate his legs, he was beginning to have violent seizures and he was choking on his own tongue.
At this point, they decided to strap him onto a stretcher and evacuate him off the dock, and fortunately by the time they reached dry land, the ambulance was just pulling in.
They drove away and we all sat and looked at each other not knowing what his fate might be. As he lay on the dock moments earlier, struggling to breathe, the things that raced through my mind were: paralysis, permanent brain damage and death. We helplessly watched a healthy young man, who had his dream job working on a yacht, on the verge of death from the bad luck of a slippery shower floor.
We have spoken the words often, but events like this that choke you with grief and rend your heart, stranger or not, remind us that they bear remembrance and repeating: our moments on this earth are rare and few and fleeting.
We will be working in Alaska this summer, exploring a beautiful corner of our planet and guiding and teaching others about the natural world around us. We will save our pennies, and after the summer season, we will set forth on another adventure and continue to explore the world until the next work season rolls around. It may be a bit risky as far as our financial future goes, but as we’ve seen, it’s also risky to have a 9-5 job and to take a shower in the morning.
Update: We’ve gotten a report from the crew that the young man has returned to work and had a full recovery.