By Meg McDonald, Executive Directory, ADD Resources –
As I read the news stories about Westhauser’s rescue, I immediately thought that many of those rescuers were members of my tribe, those with ADHD. We excel under what appears to be impossible circumstances. We come up with brilliant solutions to difficult problems quickly. And we work together to accomplish the mission under impossible conditions.
In June of 2014, while exploring with two others and deep inside a cave that was 3,766 feet below the surface and 6,000 feet up in the Alps, Johann Westhauser, a caver, was struck on the head by rocks. Despite the helmet he wore, he suffered severe injuries, a fractured skull, a broken eye socket and internal bleeding. And he was stuck below.
This diagram to the right shows what is to some an impossible task. But not to the rescuers. While going three miles underground, the rescuers had to navigate along a series of tunnels and shafts and through underground lakes and waterfalls all the while battling winds and temperatures of 37 F. Some had to exhale to squeeze through the narrow bottlenecks. It took 11 days to rescue Westhauser, five of which were just to bring him to the surface. For Westhauser, there was the constant risk of internal bleeding.
The specialized rescue teams came quickly, 728 people from as far away as Austria, Croatia, Italy and Switzerland. Many in the teams were like Westhauser, cavers, and a part of the close-knit community of expert climbers. Led by the Bavarian Mountain Rescue service, the rescuers achieved success against all odds.
They rescued Westhauser. No one called first for an analysis to determine if the rescue effort was cost-effective to save the 52-year-old physicist. No lawyers intervened to slow down the pace with liability issues. No one tried to negotiate compensation or travel expenses up front.
The rescuers just went ahead and did it under impossible conditions. Just like all of us with ADHD, together we can pull together and do it. Together, we make amazing things happen. So let’s do it. Let’s make amazing things happen.