The Orland Fire Protection District responded to an emergency from an Orland Park supermarket early this week to find an unusual, squirm-inducing emergency.
At a local grocer near 143rd Street and Wolf Road, an employee’s hand had become stuck in a meat grinder while he was processing meat, said Fire Chief Ken Brucki.
The Orland firefighters, who are also trained as paramedics, began disassembling the grinder in an effort to free the man, but Brucki said they soon realized they were going to need to transfer him to the hospital while still stuck in part of the grinder.
“The crews disassembled the machine at the store into the smallest component that they could,” he said.
With his arm still constrained in a piece of steel equipment that was about 24-inches-by-18-inches, the man was taken by ambulance to Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox with the rest of the emergency team following behind.
Brucki also said medical staff would be able to more effectively treat the man in the emergency room if the extrication was completed at the hospital.
“We knew once we removed his hand the bleeding would increase significantly,” he said. “Once we disassembled it we would be able to control the bleeding a little more effectively (at the hospital) than in the back of the ambulance.”
Fire crew cut through the remaining steel parts of the meat grinder to free his hand, and the emergency room staff took over. Orland firefighters regularly train to disassemble different types of machinery in emergency situations, but Brucki said a meat grinder isn’t one of them.
“It’s one of those calls that really challenged our people,” he said. “They did a phenomenal job.”
He added that such machinery accidents are not uncommon, but they happen more frequently with farming equipment or at businesses that use conveyor belts.
“This one was definitely a little unique,” he said. “And unfortunate too, because the gentleman is going to lose at least all of his fingers, if not his hand.”
A man reached by phone at the market where the accident occurred declined to comment.