Safety with Barry – Success can mean a Broken Toe!
I met a gentleman the other day that broke his spine, lumbar L5, as a result of a fall. The mechanism of injury was from a slip, which occurred at 268 feet in the air inside a Wind Turbine Generator (WTG) nacelle. Not the most practical place for a spinal injury!
As he was standing there, at work, recalling the event he commented that ‘”his broken toe was one of the most significant parts of the event.” Huh?
Inner Safety Ninja, “How does one fracture a spine and a toe in a WTG in one day?”
His ENSA trained co-workers/rescuers immediately replied; “Well, it was the paramedics that took your boots and socks off!”
To surmise the events, the injured worker proceeded “up tower” to operate the chain hoist, during his preparations in the nacelle, he slipped and landed squarely on his Gluteus Maximus. In pain, the injured worker contacted his co-workers that they should come “up tower” and check him out.
Upon arrival the co-workers conducted a primary and secondary assessment of the injured coworker and decided to have the victim transition down to the service lift to descend the wind turbine and seek medical attention. At this point the casualty was conscious, responsive, in some but tolerable pain and still ambulatory. (Able to walk)
While transitioning down to the “yaw deck”, just under the nacelle, the casualty became incapacitated in severe pain with the loss of gross motor skills. An emergency was declared and his coworkers went into “Rescue Mode”
One of the emergency protocols/planning, for this location, is they’ve trained with local response fire and EMT to assist with medical emergencies up-tower. Two EMT with spine board were escorted to the casualty location where, during their assessment, they removed the casualty boots and socks to determine his lower extremities sensations.
The casualty was immobilized on a spine board and his ENSA trained co-workers prepared an automatic controlled rate descent/rescue device to lower the casualty down the WTG fixed ladder well.
While lowering, with two tender’s w/victim, the barefoot casualty toe somehow made contact with WTG structure and was fractured. Neither tender claimed responsibility!
While the actions and rescue for this event were not perfect, they were successful! All participants were grateful for the training and planning before the event! To quote Dwight D Eisenhower; “In preparing for battle I’ve found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
Stay Safe My Friends
Your Humble Servant