CROTON-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. - A Westchester County man is on the verge of beingwhen he experienced a life-threatening illness.
Neighbors from his hometown are sending their support to his family and members of a New Jersey rescue crew are flying to Turkey to help.
Mark Dickey, a professional, experienced caver and chief of the New Jersey Initial Response Team, is usually the one rescuing others.
"The quick response from the Turkish government to get the medical supplies that I needed in my opinion saved my life," Dickey said.
Dickey has been trapped 3,000 feet underground in the Morca Cave since Saturday.
More than 150 rescuers, equipped with fluids and medicine, came to his rescue. Now, the days-long journey to the surface begins, and it starts from a place called Camp Hope.
They'll climb through a pathway of rock that stretches more than twice the height of the Empire State Building. Passages are so narrow they'll need to be widened to get a stretcher through.
"As you can see, I'm up, I'm alert, I'm talking... But I'm not healed on the inside yet, so I'm going to need a lot of help to get out of here," he said.
"I didn't realize it was actually my neighbor. I didn't put two and two together," one neighbor of Dickey's said.
Dickey was on an expedition when life-threatening gastrointestinal bleeding and vomiting left him unable to get out on his own.
"My son said do you know who the man who is in the cave? He said it's Mark. I said are you kidding me? I couldn't believe it. I didn't know he was in that kind of business," neighbor Brian Kennelly said.
The situation comes as a complete shock for his quiet neighborhood, as the rescue has made international headlines for the last week.
"It's amazing that the world has rallied around him, and I see all his friends, and that's got to be comforting to his parents," a neighbor said.
Watch Chris Livesay's report
Dickey is stranded in Southern Turkey, 5,300 miles away. But the distance isn't stopping the New Jersey Initial Response Team from getting up and helping.
"This is Himalayan mountain climbing," Carl Heitmeyer said.
Heitmeyer, who also works with New Jersey Initial Response Team, said Dickey is in good spirits.
"Since then, we have another member of our team respond out there," Heitmeyer said.
Heitmeyer said the ascent will be extremely challenging.
"They're gonna have tight spots. They're gonna have restrictions where only the way through is to squirm. They're gonna have belly crawls," Heitmeyer said. "It's cold. The water is 40 degrees Fahrenheit."
It could take Dickey 4-8 days to get out of the cave based on his condition, and the cave's.
"With that positive attitude and loving being inside caves, he probably has the best attitude of any cave rescue victim I've ever heard of," Heitmeyer said.
It is unclear at this time what caused Dickey to get sick.
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