Patient thanks St John Ambulance Esperance Sub Centre volunteers

A patient whose arm was trapped in a chaser bin auger from his elbow upwards for hours has thanked St John Ambulance Esperance Sub-Centre volunteers and staff for their role in the dramatic farm rescue.

Farm worker Jason Holmes had nothing but praise for all those involved in his remarkable rescue when he stopped into the sub-centre to say thanks to his rescuers.

Mr Holmes found himself in a very tight situation on Sunday, November 27 when he ended up trapped in the bottom of a chaser bin on a farm in Cascades, about 100 kilometres north-west of Esperance.

Although he still has a long way to go with his rehab, Mr Holmes can move all of his fingers after the incident crushed his hand.

The auger Mr Holmes’ hand was caught in was a square tube of metal about 20 centimetres in diameter with a rotating blade much like a giant drill bit, which transports grain from the bottom of the chaser bin up and out to another bin or silo.

When the alarm was raised, an Esperance ambulance crew of Rachel Doney and Julie Bridson along with community paramedic Paul Gaughan and volunteer ambulance officer Sue Willoughby were dispatched to the scene.

Two local first responders, Tom Walker and David Rhodes, also attended.

Mr Gaughan said they faced a daunting scene upon arrival.

“The walls of the chaser bin were nearly four metres high so access was gained by a ladder,” Mr Gaughan said.

“Once inside the bin it was difficult to maintain a stable position to work because both sides of the floor slope inwards to the middle at a steep angle.

“Because the patient was lying along the middle where both sides of the floor sloped and met, with his arm severely trapped up the auger, the position for emergency workers was precarious as any knocking of the patient or falling onto him from the sides would increase his pain.”

St John Esperance Community Paramedic Paul Gaughan and other emergency service officers helping extract the man from the chaser bin. Picture: St John Ambulance

St John Esperance Community Paramedic Paul Gaughan and other emergency service officers helping extract the man from the chaser bin. Picture: St John Ambulance

Members from the Esperance Volunteer Fire and Rescue soon arrived and set to work trying to set Mr Holmes free.

“Several attempts were cautiously attempted without success, including a manual backwards rotation of the blade,” Mr Gaughan explained.

“Part of the problem was that the arm was hidden inside the auger and it could not be seen how it had been trapped by the blade.

“Eventually it was decided to angle grind through the metal and create a lid on the top of the tube and opened up so the hand could then be freed.”

Eventually Mr Holmes was freed and transferred onto a fire truck before being placed onto the stretcher.

During this time the state operations centre had tasked the RAC Rescue helicopter to attend and it was decided that the best course of action was to transfer the patient directly to Esperance Airport where the helicopter could refuel and take the patient to Royal Perth Hospital.

After an hour’s transport to rendezvous with the helicopter, Mr Holmes was transferred to the care of critical care paramedic Clinton van der Westhuyzen.

Mr Holmes’ arm had been crushed for three and a half hours. 

Mr Gaughan said this rescue was one that stands out for its challenges and collaboration.

“This was a rescue which involved a lot of problem solving in difficult circumstances in a very isolated and remote part of the southern Goldfields, where both DFES and St John Ambulance worked together as a team to bring about the best possible outcome to a traumatic crush injury,” Mr Gaughan said.

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