Tree trimming is a dangerous job. You might fall. A large branch might land on your head. Or, you know, your chainsaw might become lodged two inches in your neck while you're twenty feet off the ground.
The latter happened to James Valentine on Monday afternoon in Ross Township, Pa. Valentine was working in a tree, sawing a branch while twenty feet off the ground, when he lost control of his chainsaw. The machine sawed a full two inches into his neck.
So the race began shortly after the 2:30 p.m. accident, which involved efforts from three coworkers, seven paramedics, along with police officers and medical officials, all of them at the top of their game, officials said.
Mr. Valentine held the chainsaw in place with his right hand while hugging the trunk with his left arm to descend 5 feet in his rope harness with cleats on his shoes. Coworkers controlling the rope lowered him gently to sitting position on the ground. He leaned against one coworker, while another held the chainsaw steady. A third coworker worked to unbolt the blade from the heavy chainsaw motor without moving the blade.
Doctors at Allegheny General Hospital performed successful emergency surgery on Valentine, who somehow managed to avoid severing any major arteries or tendons.
"He is extraordinarily lucky and very blessed," Dr. Christine Toevs said. "Most people don't walk out of the hospital the next day after such an accident."
Valentine will likely released sometime Wednesday and is expected to make a full recovery.
"It was the worst pain you could ever imagine," he told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from his hospital bed, though he added he hopes to return to work soon. "It was a freak accident that can happen any second, any time."