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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter


From the 14 January 2001 Issue

Jessica's Journey

HIGH ANGLE RESCUE

Larry turned and watched the helicopter land. His relief immense.

Three men joined him, two paramedics carrying large bags and a man from the utility company. Introductions were made, "Slim Evans, John Andrews, paramedics and Dave Hawkins Special assignments, Timber Hollow Utility Dept.

Dave was a small, unassuming man. He had organized many rescues and was quite respected in the area. He quickly assessed the situation, the well, apparently somewhat unsteady could only be accessed by what was called a "High Angle Rescue."

He turned to the other men with his verdict."This is the only solution I can offer you. But fortunately," said Dave, "getting the equipment here isn't that complicated."

"We will be using a large tripod. It works with a pulley system and a rope/cable to go over it. We can put a rescue harness around Slim. When he gets down to the girl, he will hopefully be able to put a belt around her waist, a harness over her body and lock it in. We will then pull up both Slim and Jessica together. The pulley has multiple pulleys, for every pound of pressure it will raise 2 to 3 pounds.

I don't anticipate any problems with the rescue system. My concern is the stability of the well. Lets just hope the well doesn't collapse. In areas like this, where the terrain changes so quickly, it is hard to actually detail what's at the bottom or sides. This well was dug a long time ago and seems to have been dry for quite awhile."

" I have already talked to the Tenn.Valley Authority. They have located this old farm site. Dave looked across the field toward the row of pine trees. That should be the old road that accesses the farm. They have looked over old maps of the area and were quite sure they could reach this area in less than two hours."

He reached for the radio clipped to his belt to call his affiliate. " Anderson this is Hawkins, I am at the site. It is what we assumed, a High Angle Rescue. Send out the equipment and utility men as previously discussed."

The radio crackled for a moment, then Anderson, always in a rush, replied. "Okay Hawkins, the utility company has already readied the cargo and are headed out there."

For once Hawkins was glad Anderson was usually in a hurry, it spared the wasting of time, talking things through with him.

Now he turned to other men, "come on Larry," he shouted. "We need to evaluate Jessica now and see what the situation is."

The paramedics already had assembled some of the equipment needed to take important measurements of oxygen levels and the temperature at the bottom of the well. They needed to have the readings of the area where Jessica was trapped.

With flashlight in hand the men beamed the light into the well.

Jessica had managed to pull herself to a sitting position. She squinted and looked up at them. There were spots in front of her eyes as she tried to focus.

"Jessica," called Dave, "can you hear us?"

"Yes, " she managed to respond, "but I feel dizzy and thirsty. The water I had in my backpack is all gone. Also my ankle is really hurting, it's all swollen. I can `t stand up. The Leghold trap, it was tight around my foot.

"What `s that?" Dave asked, "What trap? There is a trap in the well with you?"

"Yes," She explained, "that is why I fell in this well. It is a Conibear Leghold trap. It was set out for ensnaring animals, such as raccoons. The trappers kill and skin them and then sell their fur."

" It closed around my ankle, as I was trying to get fresh water for Joy Boy. The shock and pain caused me to trip and I fell through the wooden boards that covered the opening of this old well."

The men quickly scanned the bottom all looking for the culprit. There it is, exclaimed John, "A couple feet beside her. It looks rusty and hungry for prey."

"Yes, I see it, " grimaced said Larry, "good grief, Those are brutal. Jess, did you say the trap was around your foot?"

"Yes," she replied, "it was so painful, I didn't know what happened at first. Like I said, I tripped and fell forward and the next thing I knew, I was here in this well."

"My backpack broke the fall. If it wasn't for it, I am sure I would have been hurt far more seriously.When I came to I was at the bottom of the well and trapped. At first I wasn't sure of anything, what had happened or where I was. I am not sure how long I have been down here. Minutes have seemed like hours. I did call to Joy Boy, finally I heard him crying back."

The trap that was around my foot loosened as I fell, allowing me to finally get it off. My ankle bled for quite awhile, I think it might be broken too. I did manage to pour some of my bottled water over it. The bleeding has stopped, but it so swollen."

"My head hurts too and I have a few cuts and bruises."

"I want out of here. Please, how much longer?"

"The utility company will be here soon, Jessica," encouraged Dave, "It seems there is an overgrown road that leads into this old farm. So we don `t anticipate any problems."

Jessica perked up with this news. She would be free and out of this nasty old well, finally.

"My big concern," said Jessica, "is Joy Boy. Is he okay?"

"Yes, Jessica," replied Larry, "I took him over to the shed a while ago and gave him fresh water. He seems a little agitated right now. I think he wants to be in on the action, but I decided he better wait it out."

Jessica chuckled at this. Yes, Joy Boy would be anxious, he always was so alert. Her Joy Boy didn't miss a thing. Life was indeed interesting to him. Tear streamed down her face as she thought of how he almost died. She may be hurting, but she had save him. She would sit in this well another week, if it meant he could live.

Happy that all was fine for the moment, she leaned back against the cracking wall. Dirt crumbled beneath her back, but she didn't notice.

"I don't believe this," said Dave, "that girl has been in that well almost three days, yet she seems pretty alert. I don `t know what she had in that backpack, but she seems to be very lucky it saved her from serious if not fatal injuries."

"Jessica," yelled John,"We will be lowering some funny looking stuff down in the well with you. One will be a monitor for the temperature and the other will make sure you have enough oxygen. We aren't too concerned, but we have to be careful. You `re a special girl and we want you out of there in the best shape possible.

The men took the readings and were pleased to see it was as they suspected, sufficient conditions. Jess was indeed lucky.

I was about this time Larry heard noises. Vehicles seemed to approaching from somewhere. The rumbled of their engines soon took on a loud tone, then they were upon them.

It was a relief to circulate among all the rescuers. With their rapid assessment of the situation and their combined capabilities, the men and woman soon had the tripod unloaded, positioned and assembled over the well.

As they worked, others came down the road. The animal activists, farm sanctuary volunteers and a vet were a welcomed sight. They exchanged brief introductions with Larry and quickly made their way to the shed containing Joy Boy.

Farm Sanctuary had large transport vehicle ready for the steer. It had a big yellow ribbon and bow on the back and a sign that said "Thank You Jessica". There were pictures on the vehicle of animals grazing in pastures and barnyards filled with happy animals. Larry felt himself getting sentimental and was surprised at his own reactions. He hadn't thought about it before but he was more impassioned about this rescue than he had admitted to himself. Jessica was quite a teen.

As the crowds of people began to gather and increase in numbers, police lines were roped off with yellow tape. The sheriff and deputies were organizing the crowds and news teams that had arrived. A speaker system was set up.

Jessica, Larry thought, you do things in a big way.

The loudspeaker began to whine, it was announced that they were about to begin the rescue attempt. The crowd was asked for complete silence.

Dave looked over the tripod. It looked ready. He was a little nervous about the well, but this was her only hope.

"I know it is a risk,' he said, "But it makes sense and the base of the well seems to widen and the area is larger. We can get her out easy enough if the well withstands the commotion."

Slim put the belt around his waist and they slowly began lowering him to the girl.

As he descended, he noticed cracks in the sides. These hadn't been apparent from the top, causing him more than a little concern. He now knew he was working against time. He would have to work faster than anticipated. Could he hope that Jessica's luck would hold out?

He presumed the impact of Jessica and her backpack had disrupted the structure of the walls. The crevices grew more menacing as he got closer to the bottom and the injured girl. One thing Slim did know for sure, he was getting the girl. There was no turning back.

Clumps of dirt began to break off the sides of the well and drop on him as he passed, small chunks started to drop and land below him with heavy thuds. He could feel his heart beat and his palms became sweaty. If Jessica panicked now it might be the end for both of them.

"Jessica, he said calmly,"Is some of that dirt hitting you?"

"No, not yet." she replied.

"What is happening? Can we get out of here?" she asked nervously.

"Sure," He lied, "That is normal. Just get ready to reach for me, okay Jess?"

About that time he had reached the girl.

"Okay Jessica, lets get out off here," he urged

As Dave had said, the base of the well was wider, this made it easy for him to attempt his rescue. He took very little time to check Jess over. Squatting down he slipped the belt around her waist and gently got her to a standing position.

"Ow," she cried out, "my foot."

"Just hang on honey", he said sympathetically, quickly buckling the harness around her.

Large chunks of dried earth began pelting them, dust circled and filled the air. Dave felt Jessica shudder with recognition of the danger, but neither spoke.

Now as they were strapped together and ready to go, he remembered the Leghold trap. They wanted the trap to examine it for bacteria.

He muttered under his breath. To leave it here may be dangerous to Jessica. They needed to know what bacteria the girl was exposed to. On the other hand he needed to get the girl out now.

He glanced around the bottom and managed to make out a piece of wood that had fallen into the well with Jess, obviously apart of the rotted wood which once capped this barren abysses. He kicked the wood and with a lucky catch, grabbed it.

He then reached over and hooked the trap, carefully dragging it toward them, pulling it up. He slipped it into the bag he had attached to his waist. Mission accomplished.

"We `re ready to come up," he yelled. "Get us out of here.!"

The well didn't take happily to the ascending people. As their bodies scraped against the cracked sides, large pieces of earth dropped began to drop. Before they could quite reach the top the whole well began to cave in. Slim brushed the dirt from Jessica `s face and they emerged in time to hear the well let out a final groan and collapse beneath them. The dust belched from its belly and the crowd gasped.

As the dust cleared, still suspended in the air, but alive, were Slim and Jessica.

The crowd roared, tears streamed down faces, even Slim felt his eyes burning.

Jessica was released first from the harness and taken to an awaiting stretcher. The paramedics, eager to check her over began their efforts. An IV was started and her foot was placed in a large air splint. They smiled reassuringly to her. Jessica beamed back at them, her face flushed with fever but happy.

Ready to transport her, the paramedics paused for minute, they knew Jessica needed to have moment to see her family and Joy Boy.

Jessica now looked at the scene that surrounded her. Everything seemed to be happening in slow motion. She squinted in the welcomed daylight, relieved to be free from the oppressive clutches of the hungry well. She looked around for a familiar face. There were so many people, more people than she had ever seen in her life.

Finally out of the blur of the crowd came her parents. "Mom, Dad," she managed to yell. Hugging her parents as best she could, she felt a sense of encompassing peace, hope for times when all humans were this compassionate.

She clung to her parents, enjoying the reunion. She was about to ask about the steer, Joy Boy, when a silence fell over the area. To her relief, Melanie, her best friend, stepped forward, leading the beloved Joy Boy to her. She smiled. He was safe and well, as Larry had assured her.

"The view just got better," she said to Mel, her parents, and especially to Joy Boy

Mel winked at Jessica, their smiles, soft and knowing spoke a thousand words.

Jessica reached out and caressed the steer, Mel beamed.

"Joy Boy,"cried Jessica. "What has happened here to us? "

"Joy Boy you are going to live. My promise,"she said with new enthusiasm, "my promise to save you has been kept. Thanks to the help of a lot of people that at one time didn't even know us. Humans that finally understood the word slaughterhouse and recognized your fate... They saw it Joy Boy, they saw your inner being. Indeed, they felt you right to experience this world as an individual, as the gentle steer that you are. They celebrate your life with me, Joy Boy. They heard us, they heard our pleading cries. They saw your life for the wonderful creation it is and understood that we all have the same creator, who rules not in violence but in love and equality. We are all one sharing a planet meant to be a paradise, not a cesspool of indifference, selfishness and greed."

Mel beamed. "How do you feel Jess."

Jess, through talking, finally winked back, "I feel like this is a good beginning, nothing is impossible. I feel hope today. I know I've found the faith of my convictions, just like the mustard seed. The mountain moved today for and Joy Boy.

Mel nothing can stop me now. I am Jessica Karls and I have a mission. I am going to make a difference. I have a lot of mustard seeds, enough for you too. That is if you believe in yourself and the power of love.

"I believe Jess, I believe," answered Mel as she reached over and gently took her friends hand. The helicopter purred in the background, the whole day seemed brilliant under a sky full of new hopes.

Larry eager to get Jessica to a hospital spoke to the crowd. " Thanks so much to all of you that helped so unselfishly. Thanks to the Animal Activists for taking care of Joy Boy and to the Farm Sanctuary volunteers for their expertise and their safe haven for all of the steers. This has indeed been a HIGH ANGLE RESCUE, and I feel so proud to be part of this incredible experience."

The crowd applauded and cheered, the impressive, gusty, actions of Jessica had left them thinking. She had opened their eyes to the "food" and what really had been on their plates.

Joy Boy watched the scene with complete innocence. He had no lessons to learn. He was pure.

"Okay," Jessica said , "I am ready to go now, see you later Joy Boy. We'll share notes later" she quipped. The pain she was enduring from the Leghold trap and her fall was becoming savage, it was time to think of herself.

The parting crowd cheered as Jessica was carried into the helicopter, she managed one last wave before entering.

Her Mother, following her inside, was overwhelmed with emotions. As she sat beside her daughter and gently stroked her cheek she spoke. "Jessica I am sorry, sorry I didn't understand. After all of this today, I too feel your convictions. I am so proud of you. I love you honey. And Joy Boy, I love him too."

Jessica squeezed her Mother's hand. Her head was hurting more and she felt so tired. She closed her eyes, finally she could rest.

Jessica `s Mom didn't tell Jess how bad she looked, or how serious her injuries might be. Jess also appeared very fevered.

Yes, she was worried, but for now she held her daughters hand and smiled down at her. She couldn't help but notice the paramedics looked grim as they continued to monitor her condition.

The helicopter finally lifted, banked and headed west, casting long shadows over the happy crowd below.

TO BE CONTINUED.

Return to 14 January 2001 Issue

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