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The Accident
 By Quentin Bruns, Hamberlin Holsteins, Mara
June 4th - It was yet another cool overcast day in this Spring that refused to turn the corner into Summer.
We had recently finished our first cut, and as was our tradition, we hauled out the seldomly-used brush mower to tidy up the field and roadside edges around the farm. The heavy-duty, eight-foot- wide brush mower with two large blades was not cutting cleanly, so we decided to sharpen the blades. Using a chain to attach the 3-point hitch of the mower to the front-end loader, we lifted the mower so it was perpendicular to the ground. I spent about 10-15 minutes sharpening the blades with an angle grinder, then noticed more damage to the mower mechanism and asked my herdsman Dan to adjust the loader height so that I could get a better angle to inspect the damage.
Daniela had done a fantastic job of keeping me warm, while Quito tried to keep my mind from going into the dark places by discussing hockey and soccer.
Once the ambulance arrived, the intensity ramped up and the reality of the situation intensified. My clothes were cut off and I was rolled onto a stretcher. I consider myself to have a high tolerance for pain, but being moved onto the stretcher was by far the worst pain I ever experienced. On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d call it an easy 12. It felt like I was being torn in half.
The result of this accident was a five-and- a-half-hour surgery, 12 days in hospital and it was capped off with a lengthy recovery period. Having said that, there is no doubt that I got extremely lucky. Most injuries similar to mine involve massive amounts of internal bleeding and damage to organs like the bladder. I had none. My surgeon’s
   Knowing this could have ended much worse, Quentin smiles from his hospital room, recovering from extensive surgery to repair his pelvis.
For whatever reason, it was then that the chain came loose, and the mower came crashing down on me. Fortunately for me, I had been standing close enough to the bottom edge of the mower that when it fell, I was completely inside the mower deck. Had I been standing a couple of feet further back, I would either be dead or paralyzed.
As it was, the mower knocked me down and smashed me into the concrete, breaking the left side of my pelvis in four places, and cracking three ribs. Dan quickly reattached the chain and lifted the mower off of me. My wife Daniela and son Quito were also nearby and acted swiftly to administer first aid, comfort me and keep me from going into shock. More serendipity for me, seconds after the accident, Jennifer Veldhuisen (in her first week on the job for WestGen) arrived at the farm. It was Jennifer who called 911 while my family tended to me. Waiting for the ambulance was a long and painful experience - long enough for me to have some really dark thoughts.
“Am I going to be able to walk again?”
“Am I going to be able to work again?”
“Is this the last time I will see my wife and son?”
initial prognosis for me was at least two months in a wheelchair – I was on crutches by the time I left hospital.
By mid July, I was fortunate to be mobile enough to drive a car, truck, tractor or quad, but was still facing another six weeks minimum on crutches.
Lesson learned?
Be more mindful about the inherent risks in each situation. Ensure that you and your employees are aware of the safest way to work on equipment. Have your first aid certification up to date and first aid kits readily available. Above all (this is definitely my weak spot) SLOW DOWN. Take the time necessary to handle and work on equipment safely. This last point needs emphasis. If you are at all like me, you're always short on time in the summer. When equipment breaks down (as it will), you feel the pressure even more and start to cut corners in an attempt to save time. Don't do it! It's a trap!
As a kid taking the bus to school, I remember a sticker our bus driver had on his dashboard: The hurrier I go, the behinder I get!
A picture of the brush mower that fell on Quentin.
A dairy friend recommended I contact AgSafe for support. I would encourage all producers to work with their AgSafe consultant – Chad was an invaluable resource for me in navigating the paperwork.
It is profoundly obvious how much worse this could have turned out. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a ‘close-call’ – it might be a ‘final-call.’
It’s easy to become complacent when
we have very few incidents from all the possible situations – but it only takes one. The only option is prevention. And that requires us to put a priority on safety – even if we have to slow down a little.
Lastly, I would like to extend a sincere thanks to those that helped our family deal with the accident. Whether it was help on the farm, bringing meals or goodies, or much needed emotional assistance, the support from our greater community was incredible and is truly appreciated.

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