The last few days in high school I heard that Westinghouse was hiring "laborers" to work on building a radar installation for the Iranian Air Force. After I graduated, I didn't have enough money to go to college, so I needed to get a job. Well, I was fortunate enough to land one of those positions. It was a pretty awesome job and I was paid pretty well. I got to work hand and hand with the engineers. The installation was on top of the Karage mountain range, just out side of Tehran. It took about an hour and a half to drive from Tehran to the site. I worked there for 9 months and had a lot of great experiences. Let me tell you about one that really sticks out.
Like the US, Iran gets cold; well at least in the northern part. In the mountains it snows a lot. So, driving up to Karage mountain range during the winter became quite dangerous. On one particular day, it was snowing really badly. We successfully made it up to the site, but by the afternoon we were snowed in. We tried to take the vans back down but the road was drifted over with about 5 feet of snow.
Westinghouse didn't really prepare for this type of condition. We didn't have any extra food, water or cold weather clothing. We had jackets but that was about it. We all expected to be back to the city by the end of the day.
The first night we stayed at the installation, it was like a big party. But the next few days it got a little serious. It continued to snow and there seemed to be no relief in sight. From the radio transmitter we had, the storm was scheduled to last for two weeks. Westinghouse tried to plow the mountain road but the bulldozer got stuck and broke down. After the 5th day, people started to really freak.
For food, we were using a big sack of rice that we found and melted snow for water. But going into the 2nd week, the rice was running out. Things were becoming desperate. There was only one option and that was to hike down.
Now, most of the Westinghouse engineers were not in the greatest shape. It was going to be about a 10-mile hike through about 5 to 8 feet of snow. Most of us were guessing that it was going to get pretty hairy. But it was something that we had to do. Staying at the installation wouldn't have done us any good.
To prepare for the hike, we wrapped our feet and legs in "bubble wrap." It was funny, because after we got done padding up we looked like a bunch of aliens in a low-budget movie.
There were about 15 of us and we were all tethered together with rope. They gave me a long thin pole and placed me in the lead. My job was to probe the snow ahead of us to make sure that we weren't walking off a cliff. The road down the mountain was so badly drifted over; you couldn't tell where the side of the road ended and the cliff down the mountain started.
About 2 hours into the hike, one of the engineers, who smoked a lot, had a heart attack. He grabbed his chest and dropped face first into the snow. His heart stop and he quit breathing. One of the guys knew CPR and tried to resuscitate him. While he was doing CPR, we dug a hole in the snow to provide them some shelter from the blizzard. After 15 minutes, the guy started to breath again. It was incredible. It was like we had won the lotto. We were all jumping around in this blizzard, screaming, crying and yelling; celebrating that this guy was alive.
After about 30 minutes, the guy seemed pretty stable. Not enough to walk but stable enough to be moved. We used a blanket and some of the rope to make a crude sled. We loaded the guy on the sled and continued down the mountain.
After another three hours, we made it down. Waiting for us was a medical team and some people from Westinghouse. After about a week, we were back up on the mountain. I continued to work there until I left for the military. The guy, who had the heart attack, was sent back to the US. I don't know what happened to him after that.
This was a wild experience that I'll never forget.