Fifty-nine-year-old Leo Martinez is currently recovering at University Medical Center after a farming accident led to severe life-threatening injuries to his legs.

Tuesday, on a farm between Plainview and Floydada, Martinez was operating a 20-foot tall piece of farming equipment known as a grain auger cart when he fell in.

In the news release sent by the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and UMC, the auger cart is described this way:

A grain auger is a tube containing a solid shaft in the center with a spiral of flat steel that is welded onto the center shaft. The auger’s sharp corkscrew blade rotates as it draws grain up. According to the Farm Injury Resource Center, on a per-hour-of-use basis, augers are one of the most dangerous machines in farm use.

 

Martinez reportedly fell inside the auger cart and his legs became entangled in the sharp auger blades, causing severe damage. Unable to reverse the blades and fearing he might bleed to death, first responders made a call to M.D. Steven Brooks, a trauma surgeon at Texas Tech Physicians and Trauma Medical Director at University Medical Center.

"Dr. Christopher Piel (UMC Emergency Department Medical Director) called me and described that the patient was wedged in the auger with his left leg crushed, and that saving Mr. Martinez’s life might require an amputation surgery out in the field," Brooks said. "Our O.R. ‘red team’ prepared a surgical kit. The blood bank prepared coolers of blood for transfusion.  The E.D. staff prepared a drug box for intubation and pain control. Thanks to these dedicated professionals who are all part of our trauma team, we were ready for anything. We then helicoptered to the site, essentially taking the operating room to the patient."

Brooks prepared his team quickly for  a possible on-site leg amputation and was taken to the accident site via AeroCare1.

"The AeroCare1 team was fantastic," Brooks said, "Transporting us rapidly to the scene and returning the patient safely to University Medical Center.  The first responders performed brilliantly. They started IV fluids, treated Mr. Martinez with pain medicines, all while helping to free his crushed leg with a blowtorch."

With the help of police, Sheriffs, and the Lockney EMS and Fire Department, Martinez was rescued and transported by AeroCare1 to UMC in Lubbock.

Martinez likely will require future surgeries and physical therapy due to soft tissue and muscle damage, but physicians anticipate his continued recovery.

"Trauma care has taken center stage in the media nationally," Brooks continued. "Lately we are frequently reminded that tragedy can strike us or our loved ones at any time. This is an example of how our Lubbock medical community handles such a challenge. It’s a story of our first responders rising to the occasion. It’s a story of how Texas Tech Physicians and health care professionals in our Level 1 Trauma Center all put their heads together to operate in the field and save a life. We’re proud of our trauma team, and we show up every day ready to take care of our Lubbock community and the West Texas region."