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911: Medical emergency.
Zach: My dad he’s laying there — don’t move! — and he thinks he is close to paralyzed. He thinks if he moves, he’ll probably be paralyzed.
911: Copy that CMT 4, you have (overtalking).
Anna Lou, Ben's Mom: Zach called and said, Grandma, we need you immediately. Dad fell on a stake and I called 911.
Dana, Surgical Technician: It’s usually the ghost hour, the 10 to 11, the end of our shift when all the major traumas happen.
911: He fell from a tree, impaled object.
Zach: He’s stabbed.
911: He’s stabbed?
Zach: He has something in his back. It’s metal, it's something metal. He can’t feel his legs and he’s bleeding.
911: OK, so it’s like a tree?
Manya, RN: It went through his lower back into his pelvis. I am expecting to transfuse a lot of blood on this patient, I’m expecting there to be a large vessel injury. And that he’s going to bleed out. I’m concerned he’s going to bleed out.
911: So do you know what happened?
Zach: We have an avocado tree in our backyard, he was picking them, and there’s a big dip, he didn’t see it. He flipped over and he fell down. He’s laying there.
Dr. Gregory Imler: I can’t get to all of the potential injuries; the best place for us to look is through a front approach. And obviously with 12 inches of metal sticking out of his back, we couldn’t lay him on his back. We had to cut the fence post off at the skin. So I immediately asked one of the nurses to call engineering.
Drew, Engineering: I wasn’t really sure what we were going to be up against. So I tried to grab a little bit of everything. I was thinking I was just going drop this stuff off, but they asked me to meet them in the OR. I had no idea that it would be me in that operating room.
Anna Lou: A thought ran through my mind that possibly he could be paralyzed.
Dana: We had to cut off about a foot of it just to get him onto the bed and the second foot was still inside of him.
Dr. Imler: Once we turned him over I could feel the other end of the metal object in his abdomen. We found a way that we thought that it would be safe to pull the metal object out, put some vice grips on that, literally.
You guys have blood, right?
Operating Room (OR) Team: Yeah. We have blood, yeah.
Dr. Imler: It had gone through part of the pelvis and had lodged in a rather thick area of bone.
Dana: It took three guys to hold him down while I pulled. That’s how hard I was pulling. Launched this thing out, and it went flying across the room and it was just, it was unreal.
Dr. Imler: We’re going to want a reticulator.
Manya: Prepping to do the exploratory laparotomy to see what’s going on inside his belly.
Dr. Imler: Looking first for you know, major vascular injuries which could be, you know, very quickly life threatening. It was very close to a couple of the arteries.
OR Team: One unit of blood.
Give me some (surgical) please.
Dr. Imler: A lot of our training is knowing what parts belong where. And when they’re not in the right place to figure out how to get them back.
Zach: It was really really dark so you couldn’t really see good down here. We only had flashlights, the rest was literally pitch black so he was about right here.
He was reaching, reaching, reaching — he fell down right there. The thing that he landed on was the thing like this, except it was way longer. And it was stuck in his back.
Ben: I landed and I didn’t want to panic my kids at first so I started trying to move. And I couldn’t move my torso, I couldn’t move anything. So, God, and then I tried to move my, my feet, my toes. And I couldn’t feel my toes and I thought wow this is really, really, really bad.
Zach: If he was an inch to the left he could have been dead. It was really, really scary. Yeah.
Ben: Legs work fine. Everything works fine.
Dana: Lucky guy! Incredibly lucky guy.
Dr. Imler: Impalements are not exactly routine for, I don’t think, any trauma surgeon.
Dana: To think about having a foot-sized piece of steel inside of you, yeah. And survive and live to tell about it.
Ben: When I came home after two weeks and saw my boys I just, you know, go up and give them hugs because I, you know, I’m just very, you know just very glad.
It really strengthened that gratitude that I have for having these wonderful kids in my life.
Drew: Here’s the work order. And it says assisted in surgery to remove fence post from patient.
For More Emergency Care Information
To learn about emergency care at Sharp, visit Emergency and Trauma Services.