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Farmer Uses EMT Training On Self

July 24, 1998

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ As a trained emergency medical technician, farmer Chuck Teigen is just as savvy treating severed limbs as he is growing crops. Even if the limbs are his own.

Teigen, 48, was in serious condition Thursday after being badly injured cutting hay at his farm in Rugby, N.D. His sickle mower struck a culvert, throwing him in front of it. The blades of the mower severed his right arm and almost severed his left arm and right leg as well.

But Teigen not only remained conscious after Monday night’s accident, he gave instructions to those who rushed to help him.

He was flown to Fairview-University Medical Center here, where Dr. Matt Putnam, director of hand surgery, had been assembling his team.

``The time it took to get him here was good because we had a chance to prepare,″ he said. ``We got 3 1/2 teams of surgeons together, and the nurses, and we prepared a big room. We had time to get the microscopes in place.″

Within a minute of Teigen’s arrival, surgeons took his right hand out of its refrigerated container and went to work cleaning it. Fourteen minutes later, Teigen was in surgery.

Ten hours later, seven surgeons, 30 nurses and one anesthesiologist had put Teigen back together.

Although he was listed in serious condition Thursday, his prognosis is ``very promising,″ Putnam said.

Putnam said it will take about 15 months for the nerves to regrow and restore the feeling in Teigen’s right hand. There was some nerve bruising in the left hand, so it may take some time for feeling to return, but Teigen can already move it, Putnam said.

His right leg had a great deal of debris, which could cause serious infections, Putnam said. But the surgery to reattach it went well.

Teigen was ``conscious and cogent″ after surgery and helped doctors assess how well the operation went by telling them where he had feeling and where he didn’t, Putnam said.

Putnam credited Teigen himself and the early treatment of the injuries for the success of the operation.

``They did everything right in North Dakota,″ he said.

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