Phoenix firefighters discuss amputation after worker loses limb in conveyor belt

PHOENIX - It was just after nine in the morning, when Dr. John Gallagher got the call.

"He was bleeding a lot, and we needed to get access to his arm," said Dr. Gallagher, Medical Director for EMS.

Dr. Gallagher soon learned that a man who has worked maintenance at Sun Land Materials for seventeen years had become trapped in a conveyor belt.

"The gentleman's arm was actually amputated by the machine, there was just a little bit of skin and ligaments left."

The equipment was so large and heavy that it took nearly an hour and several tools to access the patient.

"We were simultaneously treating the patient and tearing apart this mechanical piece of equipment to try to free this worker," said Captain Tony Mure with Phoenix Fire.

Doctor Gallagher determined that the only way to stop the bleeding was to complete the amputation.

"He was conscious and awake," said Gallagher. "He at that point had been given some pain medication."

Paramedic Jason Newman actually performed the surgery. "You're trained to expect the unexpected, not really take anything for granted," said Newman, who says the patient was surprisingly calm.

"He handled it 100 percent differently than I imagine I would have," said Newman. He never really freaked out or anything…it was amazing."

Doctors say if they had not removed his limb, this man would have lost his life.

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