Man freed from grad­ing ma­chine

Matamata Chronicle - - Your Paper, Your Place - AU­DREY MALONE

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.

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