Man freed from grading machine
A man who got his arm stuck in a potato grading machine is very lucky to have not broken his arm, his boss says.
The 45-year-old Balle Brothers employee got his arm stuck in the machine on Thursday at the business on the outskirts of Matamata.
‘‘It’s not broken and he has feeling in it,’’ the Waharoa Potato Store manager Jeff Carson said.
He had visited him in Waikato Hospital and said reported he was in good spirits.
Carson had been very impressed by the local firefighters who helped extract the man’s arm.
Twelve firefighters split into two teams to extract the man from the ‘‘huge’’ machine, Matamata chief fire officer Kevin Curtis said.
Curtis oversaw the operation, which had one team on top of the 25- metre-long machine, and one team below.
‘‘He was stuck between some rollers. We had to dismantle the machine and gas cut the rollers,’’ Curtis said.
‘‘The patient was excellent. He was conscious most of the time and talking.’’
Curtis acted as a go-between communicating between the two groups.
Dismantling a machine, especially that large, became a lot trickier once an obstruction was in place, he said.
‘‘It was huge. Potatoes would go in on a conveyor belt, get sorted and then go through the grader and come back out.’’
It was not the first extraction Curtis had performed and said while doing it the firefighters did not think about what was going on.
‘‘The patient would sometimes ask questions and the guys would answer. They kept calm, so he could keep calm.’’
Carson said there was no point panicking but he was incredibly grateful to his staff’s professional demeanour throughout the ‘‘traumatic’’ experience.
‘‘I’ve been on the phone all night to my staff, just keeping them in the loop and thanking them for how well they worked. They just pulled together like you wouldn’t believe. Some people shone.’’
As soon as he was removed, the helicopter flew him to hospital to be assessed. The grading side of the site was closed while WorkSafe investigated.