Team effort helped save industrial accident victim

SPOKANE, Wash. - Auger accident rescue

When a worker at the Purina plant had his leg nearly amputated by an auger Friday morning, and firefighters realized they couldn't get their patient into surgery, the surgical team came to him, six floors up in the sky.

Early Friday morning arriving fire crews at the Purina plant on East Trent found their 29-year-old patient suffering from shock with his leg wrapped around a horizontal, stainless steel auger on top of the plant.

"The patient's leg was trapped into the auger so much and there was so much entanglement involved that the leg was on the left side of the auger and the patient could actually see his foot coming back up towards him," Assistant Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer said.

Firefighters worried the trapped victim was bleeding to death and so, using a new type of tourniquet developed for American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, crews where able to keep their victim from slipping away.

"An EMT level person put that tourniquet on and essentially did the very first step in saving our patient's life by using that tourniquet," Schaeffer said.

Local emergency rooms listened to the incident unfold on a special radio frequency called "Hear." The staff at Valley Hospital decided they'd be responsible for supplying the blood that would be given to the patient while he was still trapped. Meanwhile, surgeons at Deaconess Medical Center volunteered to jump into an ambulance and speed down to the mill so they could perform an emergency amputation.

"He unfortunately had a bad injury to his leg and we just kind of helped get him extricated from the location and fortunately didn't have to do to much surgery," Dr. Glenn Gardner said.

While the victim was taken to a waiting MedStar helicopter, doctors at Sacred Heart Medical Center were standing by ready receive their patient.

In the end, the work of the Spokane Fire Department, MedStar and three different hospitals came together to save that man's life.

"Poor guy had only worked there a week so his life has changed. But I'm sure he's fine now and they are taking good care of him," Gardner said.

The accident has temporally stopped production at the mill and employees who work there said nothing like this has ever happened before and that the plant has an excellent safety record.