Firefighters forced to amputate man's arm to save his life

According to a report from The Arizona-Republic, firefighters in Phoenix were called out to a gravel quarry in Laveen for a man trapped in machinery.

When the units arrived they found a company construction worker ensnared in the machinery up to his shoulder.  The medics were able to stabilize the man and two “extrication” companies were dispatched to assist in the disassembly of the large belt contraption.

The accident occurred just after 9:30 a.m. Monday at a sand, rock and gravel business near 69th and Southern avenues, said Capt. Jonathan Jacobs of the Phoenix Fire Department.

While the cutting and piece-by-piece removal was underway, the patient’s vitals began dropping dangerously.

A Phoenix Fire Department sepcialist group name Arizona Task Force 1, which is supported by funds from FEMA, arrived on scene with the required extrication equipment and set to work.

Paramedics called to the scene helped stabilize the man, and extrication crews were called to help free the employee from the machinery, Jacobs said.

The group of paramedics worked with Dr. John Gallagher, the Phoenix Fire Department’s medical director, who ultimately decided that he would need to supervise a field amputation on the man’s arm. The paramedics hooked up the trapped man into an IV and administered morphine for the pain while they waited for the doctor to arrive on scene.

The mans arm was so severely injured that the procedure was accomplished with a scalpel in an operation that is very complex and rare.

The patient didn't loose consciousness, even during the field amputation, according to some of the first responders who recounted the event on Tuesday. But he did lose more than a pint of blood while responders used the hydraulic-powered “jaws of life” to try and free the man.

The amputation was successful and the man was transported to a hospital in critical condition. He is recovering in intensive care and is scheduled for further surgeries, fire department officials said.

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