Surgeons Had to Cram into Semi, Amputate Driver's Leg to Save Him

By: Taylor Viydo , KREM

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho --- A day after serious accidents closed a major route in Idaho, the doctors and EMS crew that responded are talking about the extraordinary measures they took to save on driver’s life – while he was still trapped in the cab of a truck.

 “Once we got there…we climbed up onto the wreckage,” explained Dr. Marcus Torgenson. He said they put an IV in the victim, and made sure he was stable “as he could be in that situation.”

Torgenson said he asked a fireman at the scene after he climbed to the top of the truck if he should have done anything differently to be more safe. 

"He kind of shook his head at me and said 'you got it,'" he said. 

Torgenson said it took between 5 and 10 minutes to amputate the driver’s leg.

“We were in pretty close quarters,” said Torgenson. “The driver’s seat had been pushed back into what used to be the sleeping compartment and that’s where he was.”

“There were two of us on his right side, and one of us on his right side,” he said. “It’s hard to describe, it was a very small space for four people to be in.”

Torgenson said he had to lie down inside the cab to operate on the patient.

The driver is in fair condition, as of Friday, though he does need another surgery and rehabilitation.

The officials added that the event was “unprecedented” for the country, and very rare.

The amputation in the mountains is the third high risk case the Kootenai County officials have had to deal with in just one week. They also responded to an officer involved shooting Monday that left two deputies and one suspect in the hospital, and later that night a stabbing victim was brought in.

“Have we ever had a week where we’ve had six or seven traumas and the hospitals been busier than it ever has?” asked Chris Way, Kootenai County EMS Chief, rhetorically. “The ER’s seen record volumes and we’re just seeing a record number of EMS calls.”

Earlier in the week, Kootenai Health was honored for its excellence in nursing by a national organization, just one of two hospitals in the state that have received that recognition.

Courtesy of 11alive.com

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