31 Oct 2009, 11:09am
by admin

A Halloween Logger’s Tale

by bear bait

A friend of mine, Sam, is a logger. He chases these days because he is too old to hump the hills on the rigging anymore. The crew he works on is composed of key personnel like hook tenders and side rods, all left over from a 4-side outfit squeezed down to one side. Riding out the depression, you know.

Just after lunch he got a call on the radio to get over the hill pronto with a chain saw. He saw the carriage stopped with a turn hanging and thought there was sywash or some hang up…


What had happened was the rigging slinger had turned his back on the turn as it was headed for the trolley. A top slipped out of a bonus and he got javelined just below the collar bone and out the hip on his right side.

So Sam finds himself with a shell shocked rigging crew, including a hook tender-climber-side rod and another hook tender, and Buck down the hill impaled by a 30 foot top.

The exit side was about 2 1/2″ in diameter, and the entry side was 30 foot of top with about 4″ of wood off the entry.

When they got down the hill, Sam told them to hold Buck down and he cut the log off each end sticking out. Buck’s legs were under him and he was in a bent over position.

All the while 911 stuff was going on, cell phones you know, and soon a medivac chopper was overhead. But their protocol is not to land without qualified ground crew. Sam told the pilot that the donkey puncher would be the qualified ground crew because he needed the EMT right now, and the ones from town were maybe an hour out. Sam briefly but directly described the situation to the pilot.

So the donkey puncher got the chopper landed in the clearing, and the EMT came over the hill with the litter, blankets, and first aid kit slung to the trolley.

Sam had sent the turn in before he cut the log off. That made some nervous, but he said you can’t work with a turn hanging over your head, and until the turn was gone, the trolley wasn’t of use… so live with it!!!

The conical shape of the top sealed the wounds. No bleeding at exit and little at entry. But Sam knew it was close to stuff and looked for bloody foam from punctured lungs and blood pressure for liver and kidney failure. No apparent rodeo there, but he was very careful not to move stuff.

They got Buck into a litter, but the EMT had to cut more log off on the big side with a frigging Leatherman! Sam says a handsaw will be in the first aid kit by Thursday.

And then the locals got there in fireman turnouts and rubber boots without traction, precipitating another rodeo on a cow’s face far down in the hole. Bad deal, but they humped the guy out, and it was over an hour and half until they had him in the chopper and off to Corvallis Good Sam trauma unit.

His boss called about ten last night and said Buck was out of surgery, and you guys did a good job.

All have First Responder cards — the whole crew — but Sam said nobody was taking charge so he did. Someone has to have the order of things in their mind and see that they are attended to. He said when nobody was in that spot he just took over. He is outspoken, growly, a hard ass, and in conflict with those who don’t work hard, run hard, and work safe.

The log that impaled Buck was 2.5″ on the pointy end, and 4″ diameter where it was sawed off. It went in just below his shoulder on the left back side. It came out just in the middle of his right hip. It back scattered along the rib cage and spinal column before the energy was spent — that might have been the pointy end hitting dirt. It flipped him like a bad pancake. A top. You know, total utilization. Chips for the shut-down pulp mill.

Buck is still in the hospital. To remove his woody process and burden, the ER docs sliced him diagonally across the back and removed it, cleaned the wound, and then sewed him back up. They had him walking around yesterday. But he has some issues with chipped vert processes and cracked ribs, and a hell of a hole to heal from the inside out. He is not out of the woods yet, no pun intended.

Sam is on the floor under the influence of a valium and a muscle relaxer, hurting big time. Firemen in slick boots aren’t much help in humping a litter out of the brush.

Life in the woods. Never a dull moment.

The EMT from the medivac told the boss that his crew was very, very well trained and did all the appropriate first aid. So much for the dumb shit logger paradigm.

I thought you would be interested in real life logging stories, fresh from the brush. I am not going to say all the info is absolutely factual… the fog of battle stuff, etc. For that matter, I got it all second hand and can’t attest to the truth of any of it.

The story about the victim is that he controlled his destiny, and that of others. He was in the bight on his own. Nobody made him, or ordered him. In fact, the standing order is to vacate the bight when a turn is coming.

The boss asked the crew who made the decisions during the emergency. They said joint. Crew consensus. A band of brothers deal, it looks like. We did what we needed to do, we know what we did, and we knew what we were doing. We have to live, daily, with the dangers, and with confidence in each other.

And that’s the way it was, somewhere on a razor ridge behind Siletz, not long ago.

4 Nov 2009, 10:52pm
by Bob Z.

The scariest Halloween story ever. As only bear bait can tell it.

I hope the story has a happy ending — most of these types of stories don’t.

It’s time loggers and real firefighters were made heroes again — they are too important to our lives and take too many risks for the rest of us to be made anything less.



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