Right leg removed from man at accident site

SPOKANE — A Spokane man needed to have his right leg surgically removed to be freed from a stainless steel auger at a grain mill on Friday morning.

The 29-year-old man was transported to Sacred Heart Medical Center by a helicopter shortly after his leg was removed below the knee.

Spokane Assistant Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer said rescuers had little choice because the incident occurred six stories above the ground and they could not otherwise remove the leg.

The Spokesman-Review reported that rescue crews were called to the Purina Mill shortly before 7 a.m. and found the patient stuck above a grain mill on an external catwalk. A gondola attached to a crane was used to lift rescue personnel and surgeons to the scene.

Rescue crews tried but were not able to dismantle the stainless steel auger, deputy fire chief Dave Leavenworth said. Grain dust swirling around the equipment made the rescue process more complicated, he said.

“Our last resort in that situation is to surgically remove the leg,” Schaeffer said.

Rescuers called in orthopedic and vascular surgeons who performed the procedure in a makeshift “surgical suite” atop the mill, Schaeffer said. The patient was under sedation, he said.

A medical helicopter was waiting and flew the patient to the hospital.

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