My coworker thought I was dead
Here in South Dakota, the farming industry hits home with many families, as do farm-related accidents. Orman “Morrie” Sime, who worked full-time at the local elevator and a big advocate for safety, faced one of those frightening accidents.
On a June afternoon, 66-year-old Morrie and his coworkers were removing soybeans from the floor of a grain bin using an auger sweep, a long, corkscrew-shaped machine that pulls seed to the floor sump in the center of the bin.
"I’ve been in the grain business my whole life…but it was just one of those bad deals."
“I’ve been in the grain business my whole life…but it was just one of those bad deals.”
It took just one step on the smooth floor of soybeans for Morrie to lose his balance, falling to the floor of the grain bin. Immediately, the sweep caught Morrie’s left leg, the laceration holding him firmly in the machine’s unforgiving grip—dragging him closer.
The auger also caught his left arm, wrapping it around the blades of the sweep.
Leroy, Morrie’s coworker, grabbed his torso to prevent the machine from claiming any more of Morrie’s body. Unable to free Morrie, Leroy was forced to let go of his friend to turn the sweep off.
“My coworker thought I was dead,” Morrie recalled. Because he was pinned to the ground, his coworkers physically pushed the sweep backwards to free Morrie. To control the bleeding, Lyle used a tarp strap to create a tourniquet for his arm while the emergency crew rushed to the scene.
Once the ambulance arrived, they faced the obstacle of safely removing Morrie out of the grain bin. Not only was the door 3 feet from the floor of the bin, but the opening was 8 feet from the ground outside. Securing Morrie onto the backboard stretcher, a forklift outside lowered him carefully to the ground.
The ambulance took Morrie to Milbank Area Hospital Avera, where the medical team prepared for his arrival. One of the registered nurses waiting was Emily Granquist.
“I remember hearing over the ambulance call that someone had fallen into a grain auger,” said Emily. “I didn’t know what to expect, but I didn’t expect it to be so bad.”
Morrie had broken his left arm, had deep lacerations on his left leg’s upper thigh and a deep laceration below the knee on his right leg.
For an emergency so severe, Emily and the rest of her team relied on eEmergency. This two-way video technology connects Avera providers in a local setting to emergency experts in Sioux Falls.
“The eEmergency doctor and nurses helped us stabilize him. They reminded us of the ABCs — check that his airway was open, make sure he’s breathing OK and check his circulation. They made sure we had the IVs in place.”
The eEmergency experts in Sioux Falls instructed the Milbank team to clean around Morrie’s lacerations, but avoid going too deep because they didn’t know the extent of the damage. Removing too much debris could cause even more blood loss.
Though air travel was favored, unclear skies required a ground ambulance to transport Morrie to Sioux Falls. As the Milbank team attended to Morrie, the eEmergency crew also coordinated the departure of the ambulance.
“He lost so much blood,” said Morrie’s wife, Bev. “They had to clean out the ambulance before they could load him up and take him to Sioux Falls.”
“The lacerations were just filled with dirt and soybeans,” said Morrie. “Actually, they said that it may have saved me because it stopped the bleeding.”
Second pair of eyes
As one of the worst traumas she’s ever cared for — with the worst lacerations she’s ever seen — Emily was thankful to have a resource such as eEmergency to support her team as they rushed to save their patient.
“It was like having another three people in the emergency room,” she said. “We’re so in the moment and they’re a second pair of eyes…writing down notes for us…supporting us.”
An emergency room takes the term “fast paced” to a whole new level. But being in a small town community, where everyone knows everyone, working in the emergency room can induce even more stress and emotions.
“You just never know who is going to come in,” said Emily. “One of our staff members is related to Morrie, so that was even more nerve-wracking.”
His miracle story
Today, Morrie is 69 years old and says he feels just as good as 30 years ago. Even though his left arm’s mobility has been reduced, he’s “just glad he’s got it.”
“I haven’t got an ache or pain, and I never did get an infection,” Morrie raved. “Everyone did a fabulous job —the doctors, the therapist and all of the nurses.”
"Everyone did a fabulous job —the doctors, the therapist and all of the nurses."
“I’m a very positive person, but I know he’s changed,” said Bev. “He used to be so fired up with no patience. Now, he’s so happy and thanks God every morning to have a second chance at life.”
His daughter, Stacy, closely documented Morrie’s story in a hardcover book called “Our Miracle Story.” The book details her father’s experience, from his accident to his surgeries, the interactions with his caregivers to the daily milestones in rehabilitation.
Today, Morrie expresses even more gratitude for the opportunity to spend time with his three grown children and four grandchildren, watching them grow up. “They are the apples of his eyes,” said Bev.
And she is thankful to continue sharing her life with her husband and best friend. “I’m convinced he wouldn’t be here if he didn’t get the care he had at Avera.”
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