Author Topic: Amputated fingers, power tool safety and first aid **GRAPHIC**  (Read 383 times)

Offline Cedar

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**** WARNING, EXTREMELY GRAPHIC*****
Since at least three of my friends have now lost fingers due to table saws, I am hoping to save someone else's digits in the future , and give the person who suddenly ends up being the First Aid person what to do.

I am posting a GRAPHIC photo, with permission of the person who had their fingers cut off yesterday, who is a friend of mine. Another friend of mine is actually using the photo in a workplace saftey meeting this week, which gave me the idea for this post here at TSP.

Once again, this is a WARNING = EXTREMELY GRAPHIC!!

1:20am
I am up as I am taking care of JD. TLoTH is still frail after her few recent heart attacks, and there is no one else. I have now taken two people to the Emergency Room at least 6x in the last 26 days.. actually two ER's for JD today, as I took him to the closest one first, as he was passing out on me, and then I had to take him to the Veterans Administration Hospital in Portland.

We were supposed to be working on the poultry pens again yesterday, but for some reason JD went down to dado the handles into the beeboxes, which we do not need anytime soon, and he did not put the boxes together first like he normally does. He tried something new, did not make a jig, and he paid the price. I was making my daughter lunch when he started screaming at the back door a couple minutes later, screaming he had just cut his fingers off. I sprint to the door, refused to take his glove off to prevent any more trama, and just let the ER do it, handed him paper towels to stem any blood as he was gripping his right hand, and I got ready to go to the ER room in a moment's time. I did not even question he had cut them off.

He started to take his gloves off, and I wanted to cut them off, or leave them on for the ER to do, but he took it off anyway, I helped to prevent any more damage since he was insistent on taking it off, and yes, two of his fingers were missing. There was virtually no blood, as the 1" wide Dado blade shredded the vessels, causing them to crush/almost self-seal, VS a straight cut, like with a knife cut, which cannot easily self-seal.

After he passed out twice trying to get him to my truck, I demanded I was taking him to the closest ER (which he had to tell me how to get to -- and thankfully he did not pass out again in my truck), and got him in the door of ER. He was immediately seen, even before any paperwork was done.


However, even after he repeatedly told me not to look for his fingers, that there would not be anything left,... in good conscience I had to try, I grabbed gear for them, if I found them, from the house before I loaded him in, drove down to where the tablesaw was, and dug through the sawdust and machine. There was no fingers, no gloves, no blue glove fibers, no blood. The Dado blade had pretty much atomized everything. Nothing in the sawdust or on the tablesaw even felt wet. In hindsight I probably should have worn medical gloves for my search...

Amputations seen in the emergency department are often a result of penetrating injuries, involving a variety of machines, blunt injuries (crush injuries), self-inflicted injuries, or thermal injuries (electrical burns or frostbite). Finger tip amputations are the most common type of amputation of the upper extremity.

WARNING GRAPHIC PHOTO BELOW
WARNING GRAPHIC PHOTO BELOW
WARNING GRAPHIC PHOTO BELOW
WARNING GRAPHIC PHOTO BELOW

You cannot UNSEE this....
Last warning..


It is kinda morbidly interesting... He lost a little just to the first knuckle on one finger and just above the second knuckle on the other. Again, there was NO BLOOD!! That was almost as disturbing as anything.



This was as much as he was bleeding, until the ER physician started injecting nerve blockers into his hand to kill the pain. His hands were just shredded. The Xrays show a very clean cuts on the bones on both fingers.  I had actually taken the photo, not for posterity, or showing you guys, but to show anyone who needed to see if after he was being worked on, so we did not have to unwrap it again if not needed due to having a photograph (which was actually good when we had to go to the second ER and a second hospital (VA). If there is any good news, it is not his writing hand, as he is a lefty, and the other good news.... it could have been way worse.

This is a Dado blade, the blade which was on the table saw. It is used for cutting the handles into the sides of the beehives  or something like.


Look at one of my hive pics I posted recently on here.  This blade cuts in the dents which are the handles. The saw blade is wide with multiple blades, like how it is shown above, to remove much wood material at once. You can see that the handles he has been making in other photos of the beehives we have been making (which look nicer than the photo I have here of someone else's hive). I do not like using the table saw, so I help when I can, like holding the end of a board when it is far away from the tablesaw, and painting all of the beehives.

The problem with using the Dado blade on the table saw, is that the anti-kick device is not possible to use with it on. So what happened, is the board caught in the blade and kicked back, most likely it struck JD, which caused him to possibly lean forward, and then his hand fell into the running blade. It would have only had to been a mere inch that he moved. If even that much.
So to prevent this accident from happening, he said that using fully assembled boxes like he had been doing would have been safer. He did not assemble them this time, because he was trialing a new method, and thought it would expedite the process of making them. In hindsight, (he is just now telling me that, as I type this), that experiment of his was a fail. He will not be doing it that way again, but go back to his 'proven way'. I told him he would not be doing anything for awhile.

The main reason I am posting this, is my friend Bob has also taken out his hand from a table saw a couple years ago, and lost a finger and a thumb. Maybe showing this photo will help save someone else from similar loss in the future One thing in common they did wrong was wearing gloves. Gloves were caught and sucked into the blade. Although in JD's case I think the results would have been the same, with or without gloves.

Table saw safety is extremely important to woodworkers because most woodworkers who use power tools use table saws as their main shop tool. Add to that the power of the saws and the dangers it presents, and we quickly understand that lots of personal damage is possible. The table saw has been in use for many, many years, so most of the problems possible can be easily foreseen and avoided. The double dozen below should help you avoid most, if not all, problems.

1. Do not wear gloves while operating a table saw. There are several reasons, but loss of tactile sense is probably foremost, while a possible loss of gripping power is also close to the top. And some kinds of gloves are loose enough to present an item for the rotating blade to grab.

2. Keep the floor in front of the saw free of cut-offs and piled up sawdust. Tripping or sliding into a running, or even stopped, saw blade can really create problems, but even slipping and banging your head against the cast iron table can bring on a bad injury.

3. Wear proper eye and hearing protection. Eyes need to be protected from damage by projectiles--and no, standard eyeglasses will not do the job. Hearing protection is something every woodworker should start with, and continue. Hearing loss creeps up on you without warning, and often without symptoms, until it's too late to reverse the procedure.

4. Wear short sleeves, leave the ties at the office, and junk your dangling jewelry. Get rid of other loose fitting clothing while operating a table saw. Any of these items might get caught in the blade and yank you into it before you can react.

5. Stand comfortably, with your feet far enough apart for good balance. This is always important, but more so when you're cutting stock long enough to require several steps towards the saw to keep the feed going. Then, you build up momentum and want to be able to stop easily. Wear footwear with non-slip soles. 

6. Stand comfortably, with your feet far enough apart for good balance. This is always important, but more so when you're cutting stock long enough to require several steps towards the saw to keep the feed going. Then, you build up momentum and want to be able to stop easily. Wear footwear with non-slip soles.

7. Avoid any awkward operations. If you feel like a gawky fool doing a cut, then don't do the cut in that manner. This helps you avoid losing your balance and possibly falling into the blade or table.

8. Use a push stick to cut stock that is 6" or less in width. A hand that isn't close to a blade isn't going to get cut. Generally, a 6” minimum distance to the blade is considered safe, though some recommend 4”.

9. Use a stop block when you crosscut short lengths. Mount a stop block on the fence--this can be as simple as a clamped on board that stops just before the saw blade, so that cut-off pieces cannot bind between blade and fence.

10/ Position your body so that it is NOT in line with the blade. This keeps sawdust feeding back through the slot of the blade out of your face, and much more important, it keeps you out of the line of most kick-backs.

11. Never reach behind or over the blade unless it has stopped turning. Sometimes this looks safe. It almost never truly is. This does not mean you should stop pushing your work before it finishes passing through the blade, itself an invitation to kick back. 
12. Always disconnect the power before changing the blade or performing any other maintenance operation. I like to drape the plug over my fence rail so I know in an instant the saw's unplugged…or not.

12. Make sure that the blade has stopped turning before you adjust the table saw. The reasons are obvious. Making adjustments can get hands too close to the blade, and even a slowly spinning blade has a multitude of sharp edges that can do damage.

13. Always make sure that the blade is turning free before you turn on the power: this is especially helpful after you make changes or adjustments. In other words, spin the blade without power a time or two to make sure there are no scraps or tools touching it.

14. Keep the tabletop smooth and polished. A dirty or rough table requires you to use more force to push the stock through the blade. It may also rust like crazy, further reducing the saw's effectiveness.

15. Keep the rip fence parallel to the blade so stock doesn't bind on the blade and kick back. Some woodworkers prefer to keep the rear of the fence kicked out (away from the blade) by 1/64". I believe parallel is better, but a friend of mine, with more experience than I, keeps the back of his fence kicked out. Both work.

16. Use zero clearance inserts. These reduce the chance of slender cuts dropping into the lower part of the blade and making the round trip to speed by your head. They also reduce splintering in cuts.

17. Never operate a table saw with the throat insert removed. Wood that is fed into a gaping hole can drop down and get caught on the blade. That can't happen if the throat insert is in place.

18. Do not make free-hand cuts on a table saw. Guide the stock through the blade using the rip fence or the miter gauge.

19. Keep the blade guards, splitters and anti-kickback fingers in place and operating freely. Check the action of these items before starting work.

20. Work should be released only when it is past the blade. Releasing work too early is an invitation to kickback as it is possible for the blade to grab the part that has not yet gone by.

21. Whenever the stock is lifted or tilted above the surface of the table, the saw is able to shake the stock. If this happens, and you lose your grip, duck down and hit the stop button because losing your grip on the work means it probably is going to come back at you.

22. Check stock before cutting. Look for nails, knots, screws, or stones. Such fun items may become projectiles. If they hit, they smart, and may cause serious injury as well. Also, damage to carbide tipped blades can be major, even if all it does is scare you.

23. The fence and the miter gauge are not meant to be used together. Under some circumstances, you can use both (see above on stop blocks), but the fence then needs an auxiliary fence added. That fence or stop must end just before the saw blade.

24. Don't mess with the fence adjustment when the saw is running. And a general addition, which goes for all tools and all techniques in a wood shop: if a procedure feels unsafe, it probably is, so don't use it. Find another way to do what has to be done.


If amputation of fingers ever happens to you or one of your friends, follow these directions. Due to having taken my Emergency Medical Responder's course for the volunteer fire department where I used to live, I knew what to do..

Steps to Follow
1. Calm the person.
Getting that finger amputated can be painful and extremely frightening. So make certain to assure the victim that it will be all right. And that help is on its way.

In the case of yesterday, I had to yell at JD like a drill sergeant to keep him moving to the truck, and to keep him focused. He was pretty shocky, so after I made sure any bleeding was controlled (there was NONE), I got him packaged up, buckled up in my vehicle and started on the way to the hospital pronto. He had actually passed out twice to the ground from the pain in the house and on the walkway to the house on our way out. I was wavering between calling an ambulance, or taking him when he fell, I knew we could get him help sooner if I took him in. But as soon as he was down, he was getting back up again, so I went with taking him in. Especially since their place is very hard to find.

2. Stop the bleeding.
Bleeding is likely to occur next after an amputated finger so it is important to control that bleeding. Apply pressure to at least lessen the outflow. You can also use a pressure bandage but not too much as sometimes using direct pressure on the wound especially if it’s too tightly can do more harm than good.

A complete amputation may not bleed very much. The cut blood vessels may spasm, pull back into the injured part, and shrink. This slows or stops the bleeding. This is what happened in JD's case.

3. Save the body part.
Remove the dirt that may contaminate the wound. Wash also the dismembered part and do so gently.

I tried, even though he kept telling me there would not be anything to find. I had to look anyway. I looked through the machine, I dug through the sawdust with my bare hands. There was nothing to find. No wet sawdust, no blue glove threads, no flesh. Anything removed from his body was like completely vaporized.

4. If it’s totally cut off, wrap the severed body part.
It’s also important that not only the patient but also the body part be taken immediately to the hospital emergency. Wrap the amputated part in clean, damp cloth and seal in a plastic bag before placing in ice water.

These are the supplies I had grabbed from the house before going to the machine on the way to the Emergency Room. It only took a moment to grab.

5. Support the affected area and prevent shock.
It is best to keep the amputated area or what’s left of it at a higher level than the heart so as to slow if not entirely stop the bleeding.
He was automatically doing that, I think it was more instinctual than anything. Later on, after we had left both ER's, I had to remind him repeatedly to keep his arm up. He was grey and shocky. In the first 10 minutes he passed out from the pain and shock twice for a moment or two. Later on, we realized that being in shock was actually keeping his pain levels down. After he was out of shock, and the nerve blocks wore off, his pain was actually worse than moments after the incident. I did cover him with a blanket at the first ER, and then two at the second ER. He had been dripping wet through his t-shirt from the sweat from his pain, and then he started chilling and could not regulate his body temperature.

Tips: Remember these Do’s and Do Not’s
For severed body parts do not put directly in water without placing first in a plastic bag. Don’t place it directly on ice as well or on dry ice. These will certainly damage the part.

I had grabbed paper towels, zip lock bags, a ziplock with ice, it took 15 seconds to grab them on the way to the ER.

If cold water is unavailable, just keep the part as clean and away from heat as possible. It’s best if you can save it for the medical professionals. Remember cooling the part keeps it usable for some 18 hours; without, for about 4 to 6.

Keep the patient warm and comfortable. If putting him or her in a particular position causes more pain or discomfort, assist to relieve immediately. But keep in mind the injury of course. Stay with the person until help arrives or take him or her to the nearest emergency facility if possible.

If the bleeding is under control, check for other injuries. Sometimes, an amputated finger might also be signs of other injuries that need first aid. If possible, confirm and ask the victim.


Please practice prevention for injuries. It can happen to you. JD has had 40+ years of working with this kind of equipment on a daily basis. It only takes a millisecond to have an accident.

Please sign up for a First Aid class (or better) ASAP. Like today.

Cedar
« Last Edit: July 11, 2017, 05:07:45 AM by Cedar »
"Do not breathe simply to exist."

"Make now always the most precious time. Now will never come again." - Jean Luc Picard

"A person who works with his hands is a laborer, A person who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman, A person who works with his hands, his head and his heart is an artist."

Offline Carl

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Re: Amputated fingers, power tool saftey and first aid **GRAPHIC**
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2017, 05:00:18 AM »
 :jaw-drop:  whoa!
I refuse to punch back as I didn't come here to fight.

Stop complaining about life and start Celebrating it .

I've reached the age where there is little left to learn the hard way.

If you had only one year,one month,or one day...Would you live your life differently?

Offline Redman

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Re: Amputated fingers, power tool safety and first aid **GRAPHIC**
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2017, 06:11:03 AM »
Cedar, may I have your permission to copy and paste this to a couple of woodworking forums?
There's no such thing as spare change, free lunch or too much horsepower. ~ anonymous

Ain't no such thing as free shipping either ~ Redman

Offline Cedar

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Re: Amputated fingers, power tool safety and first aid **GRAPHIC**
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2017, 06:26:39 AM »
Cedar, may I have your permission to copy and paste this to a couple of woodworking forums?

I will ask JD. He gave me permission for my blog and here if I did not show his face. He will probably say yes, but I am not asking him at this second as I might have to run him back in to the ER due to pain. It happened 17 hours ago, and even with the pain you would think he would be having, he is actually already having phantom pain where the lost sections are.

If I do not reply to you in a day or so, ask me again...between my Nice Neighbor and running them in, and now this, and doing all my regular stuff, I am getting very tired.

Cedar

"Do not breathe simply to exist."

"Make now always the most precious time. Now will never come again." - Jean Luc Picard

"A person who works with his hands is a laborer, A person who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman, A person who works with his hands, his head and his heart is an artist."

Offline Cedar

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Re: Amputated fingers, power tool safety and first aid **GRAPHIC**
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2017, 06:37:28 AM »
He said yes Redman.

The other thing I was going to type and didn't, was that although there were other people in the home who live here, not one moved to help, including opening the door for him to come in. One totally fell apart and froze. I did leave my daughter with them when I took JD in, but realize you might be on your own rendering first aid to someone, and other people around are going  to be possibly more than worthless and just get in your way.

Don't babysit them, take charge, get them out of your way, boss them around, give them directions if you need their help, tell them to leave the room or whatever. Get your medical training and if you are around others frequently like I am this family, know what they are made of, and if there is an emergency if you can depend on help from them, or if they are going to be a hindrance. And not saying they are bad people for being the way they are, but just be aware you may be on your own,... again. get your medical training, even if it is only basic first aid and CPR.

Cedar



« Last Edit: July 11, 2017, 06:43:51 AM by Cedar »
"Do not breathe simply to exist."

"Make now always the most precious time. Now will never come again." - Jean Luc Picard

"A person who works with his hands is a laborer, A person who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman, A person who works with his hands, his head and his heart is an artist."

Offline Redman

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Re: Amputated fingers, power tool safety and first aid **GRAPHIC**
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2017, 06:59:01 AM »
Thanks Cedar and thanks to your friend for me. I realized after I posted that I should have asked for his permission also. I apologize for that omission.
There's no such thing as spare change, free lunch or too much horsepower. ~ anonymous

Ain't no such thing as free shipping either ~ Redman

Offline Carl

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Re: Amputated fingers, power tool safety and first aid **GRAPHIC**
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2017, 09:02:38 AM »
  Cedar , can we balance that with a cute baby goat or bunny picture?
I refuse to punch back as I didn't come here to fight.

Stop complaining about life and start Celebrating it .

I've reached the age where there is little left to learn the hard way.

If you had only one year,one month,or one day...Would you live your life differently?

Offline Cedar

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Re: Amputated fingers, power tool safety and first aid **GRAPHIC**
« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2017, 09:29:32 AM »
  Cedar , can we balance that with a cute baby goat or bunny picture?

I found one for you Carl, a cute little Dwarf Hotot, was going to post it, then changed my mind, as I want the horror of the hand photo to stand. That is why it is being used by someone in Florida for my friend's safety meeting, why Redman wants to post it to his woodworking forums. To save someone else's hands.

I want someone to say OM[blanking]G.. and maybe they will remember what JD's hand to keep their hands from looking like his permanently. To keep them from taking off the fence, or not using a thing to push the wood through, to take off the kick guard, to let them know and be aware there is a newer technology which stops the saw if it contacts human flesh.

Cedar
"Do not breathe simply to exist."

"Make now always the most precious time. Now will never come again." - Jean Luc Picard

"A person who works with his hands is a laborer, A person who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman, A person who works with his hands, his head and his heart is an artist."

Offline SOprep

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Re: Amputated fingers, power tool safety and first aid **GRAPHIC**
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2017, 09:45:48 AM »
Table Saws while very useful can be dangerous.  I got very lucky a couple years ago while making a chest for my daughter's first Christmas present.  My wife and daughter were out of town and I was trying to finish up the project.  I had a piece of stock bind up and violated Cedar's rule 11.  As I was pulling my hand back I did not lift it high enough and caught the middle and pointer finger on my left hand.  The only thing that saved me is something my Middle School Shop teacher told me - only raise the blade 1/8" more than the thickness of your stock.

After I got cut I went to the bathroom and when blood spurted across the sink I decided I could not deal with the cuts on my own so I wrapped it in paper towels and drove myself to the ER.  According to their x-rays I missed the bone by less than 1mm.  It was an eye opening experience for me and I treat the tools with a bit more respect these days. 

As always, thank you Cedar for the informative and detailed post.

Offline Cedar

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Re: Amputated fingers, power tool safety and first aid **GRAPHIC**
« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2017, 09:48:15 AM »
Glad you ended up Ok SOprep

Cedar
"Do not breathe simply to exist."

"Make now always the most precious time. Now will never come again." - Jean Luc Picard

"A person who works with his hands is a laborer, A person who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman, A person who works with his hands, his head and his heart is an artist."

Offline Carl

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Re: Amputated fingers, power tool safety and first aid **GRAPHIC**
« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2017, 10:04:31 AM »
I found one for you Carl, a cute little Dwarf Hotot, was going to post it, then changed my mind, as I want the horror of the hand photo to stand. That is why it is being used by someone in Florida for my friend's safety meeting, why Redman wants to post it to his woodworking forums. To save someone else's hands.

I want someone to say OM[blanking]G.. and maybe they will remember what JD's hand to keep their hands from looking like his permanently. To keep them from taking off the fence, or not using a thing to push the wood through, to take off the kick guard, to let them know and be aware there is a newer technology which stops the saw if it contacts human flesh.

Cedar

Probably best,I can always look at kitten videos.
I refuse to punch back as I didn't come here to fight.

Stop complaining about life and start Celebrating it .

I've reached the age where there is little left to learn the hard way.

If you had only one year,one month,or one day...Would you live your life differently?