Trauma team discusses amputating leg of worker trapped in belt pulley at Bates Container plant

Dr. Jayson Aydelotte: In-field surgery plan, military experience saves man

SAN ANTONIO - A trauma surgeon, Dr. Jayson Aydelotte, credits two tours of duty in Iraq and a recently developed plan for doing in-field surgeries, for saving a man trapped in an industrial machine at the Bates Container plant.


The man, 31, reportedly stepped in an area where he "shouldn't have been" and got his leg trapped in a belt pulley at the Bates Container plant Monday night.

Dr. Jayson Aydelotte, a trauma surgeon at University Hospital, said he followed the emergency procedures, developed just over a year ago, and the plan worked flawlessly.

"It's not a whole lot of moving parts but at least we had something to go off of and it worked exactly like we thought it would," Aydelotte said.

Aydelotte hadn't thought much about the plan he and other trauma surgeons at University Hospital created in one day, until he got a call Monday night telling him to go to an industrial accident scene.

Emergency responders determined they could not dismantle the machine, so the only way to free the trapped worker was to amputate his leg.

It was a situation trauma surgeons rarely find themselves in. Despite having performed numerous amputations in his career, Aydelotte had never performed one outside of an operating room or battlefield hospital.

"It was really helpful to get something off the shelf instead of trying to reinvent the wheel right at that time," Aydelotte said.

The plan for in-field surgeries called for sending two surgeons. But the other doctor wasn't going to make it in time. So Aydelotte tapped medical student Jessica Hollingsworth to assist him.

Aydelotte needed Hollingsworth's knowledge of anatomy to keep the patient safe during the procedure.

She said everything went smoothly.

"We knew what to do when we got there," Hollingsworth said. "It just felt like it went how it was supposed to go."

Aydelotte and Hollingsworth were rushed to the scene in an ambulance. The amputation was performed in a just a few minutes.

Aydelotte then got on board a medical helicopter with the patient and went back to the hospital. That's when he realized he was only gone about an hour.

Aydelotte credited the planning and his years of experience in the Army treating war casualties for the positive outcome.

"Trauma surgeons who have been to war have a real depth of experience dealing with mangled extremities and luckily I was the guy who had a lot of experience in that," Aydelotte said. "Playing it back in my mind we wanted for nothing. It was a real smooth, slick operation."

The accident victim continues to recover from his injuries.

An investigation is underway to determine how the accident happened and what can be done to prevent future accidents at the plant.

For a list of recent stories Tim Gerber has done, click here.


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