Illinois Man’s Arm Pulled from Supermarket Meat Grinder
(CHICAGO) -- First responders in the town of Orland Park, just outside Chicago, were forced to deal with a scene straight out a horror movie last week when they treated a man who had gotten his hand caught in a meat grinder at a local supermarket.
When the Orland Park Fire Department responded to a 911 call about an employee at the store whose hand was stuck in the meat grinder, battalion chief Mike Schofield -- a 35-year veteran of the force -- said they encountered the kind of scene they had only seen on television shows.
"I have never seen anything like this, other than watching on TV shows," Schofield told ABC News. "It was a first for our department."
"When we got there, we found a gentleman that had up to his mid-arm caught in the machine," he said. "He was in pain but surprisingly he wasn't screaming. His co-workers were extremely concerned. Everyone in there was kind of in shock."
But the meat grinder was helping restrict the loss of blood.
"There wasn't a lot of blood because his hand was so tight in the meat grinder it almost acted like a tourniquet," Schofield said.
The first responders were unable to dismantle the meat grinder and remove the man's arm.
"We attempted to dismantle as much as we could on the scene, but it was obvious that it would be an extended period of time," Schofield said. "Once we were unable to do that quickly, we took half of it apart and then took that part of the machine with us to the emergency room. When we were on the scene, the paramedics started an IV and gave the patient morphine."
With part of his hand still stuck in the meat grinder, they rushed the man to a nearby hospital, bringing the meat grinder -- still partially attached to his arm -- along with them.
"We put him on a stretcher because we had the IV on him and the part was between his legs," Schofield recalled. "We all went to the emergency room. The doctors knew what was coming in, so once we got there, we consulted with them on which would be the best way to handle getting this grinder off of him."
"It was decided we'd take the patient into the HAZMAT room, so we moved the patient in there and set up our jaws of life. We began extricating him from this machine with the doctors guiding us," he continued.
"There's a miniature hydraulic tool that we use to extract smaller items. It's like the jaws of life but it's a smaller version, so we used it to cut the metal apart and peel back the grinder. That took approximately 20 minutes to do."
Throughout the traumatic ordeal, the unidentified man, who Schofield said was "middle-aged," remained relatively calm.
"He was just praying. He was pretty sedated, but he was still in pain," Schofield said. "We had two paramedics constantly talking to him, reassuring him. We explained every step we were going to do. He was able to tell us when it hurt too much and we were able to back off and the doctors were providing pain medicine for him."
Once the remainder of the meat grinder was removed from the man's hand, though, the makeshift tourniquet was gone and the bleeding increased.
"There was significant bleeding once we relieved the pressure because his hand had basically been caught in it," Schofield noted.
Once the meat grinder was removed, the patient was rushed away to surgery.
"His arm was OK," Schofield said, "but I'm not sure the extent of the injuries to the hand. I would think they were significant."
There were no updates on the man's condition or the state of his hand as of Friday afternoon.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio