Man loses leg in industrial accident

SPOKANE, Wash. - Auger rescue

Fire crews in Spokane worked to free a man who got his leg trapped in an auger on the top of the Purina Mills plant at 4700 E Trent Friday morning.

The Spokane Fire Department got the call for around 6:40 a.m. that a man was trapped on top of the Purina Mills plant. Between his injury and the cold weather, firefighters said they are amazed at how strong he was the entire time

"He did a very good job of staying calm and working with personnel to tell them what was going on," Dave Leavenworth with the Spokane Fire Department said.

Spokane firefighters worked quickly to assess the situation and put together a strategy

The victim had part of his leg caught in a horizontal auger hundreds of feet in the air

For emergency crews the moments that passed while the planning was being done can only be described as frustrating

"You want to help somebody that is injured like that and we all recognize that we are in that golden hour of that trauma care and every minute that we are up there is a minute that is endangering our patient," Leavenworth said.

Surgeons were on hand but first, firefighters attempted to cut around some of the equipment in which the employee was trapped

"We were unable with the equipment that we had to cut the auger because it is industrial equipment, it is very heavy duty, we don't have the equipment to cut that kind of steel it left us with very few options," Leavenworth said.

A surgical intervention was the only option and a vascular surgeon amputated the victim's leg below the knee. A crane was on hand to lower the man down to a MedStar helicopter which rushed him to Sacred Heart Medical Center..

"It was a serious injury and everybody knew that, and with a lot of cooperation we were able to get him out of there and get him to a facility that can take care of his injuries," Leavenworth said.

Land O'Lakes issued the following statement Friday afternoon regarding the accident at their Purina Animal Nutrition plant in Spokane:

This morning there was an incident involving one of our personnel at our Purina Animal Nutrition plant in Spokane, WA. Emergency officials were immediately notified and responded to the scene. We are currently investigating the incident and have no further comment at this time. Our thoughts are with the person and his family.