Chief: Injured worker trapped in machine for 2 hours at L. Windsor Twp. business

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
It took fire/rescue crews and medical teams nearly two hours to free a man whose entire body became caught in an industrial machine at Recycle America in Lower Windsor Twp. on Aug. 15, 2019.

It took fire and rescue crews and medical personnel nearly two hours to free a man whose entire body became stuck in industrial machinery at a Lower Windsor Township business, according to Yorkana's fire chief.

"We brought him out alive," Chief Rod Weitkamp said. "I couldn't ask for a better operation."

One of the 49-year-old man's legs was amputated below the knee and he remains at York Hospital, said Weitkamp of Yorkana Community Volunteer Fire Co.

Crews were called to Recycle America in the 4500 block of Mount Pisgah Road at 1:38 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 15, according to the York County 911 Center.

There, they found the man trapped inside an industrial cleaning-type machine that had a 10-inch auger in it, according to the fire chief.

The machine had jammed, and the man was trying to fix the jam  when he was pulled inside the machine, the chief said.

"His foot got caught in the auger, and somehow it threw his whole body in the machine," Weitkamp said. "You had to really look in the machine to see him."

The machinery is about 10 feet off the ground, meaning crews had a complex rescue to plan and execute, he said, adding the situation is  what's known as a high-angle (meaning off-the-ground) rescue.

Complex operation: "It's probably the most complex rescue I've been involved with in my 35 years (as a firefighter)," Weitkamp said.

The only way to access the victim was by climbing up a ladder and working from a catwalk, he said.

Fire/rescue and ambulance crews from all over York County responded, including the county's Advanced Technical Rescue team.

"He was conscious and talking when we got there," the chief said.

A partial tourniquet was applied to the man's leg, which was basically amputated below the knee by the machinery, according to Weitkamp, who said medical personnel sedated and monitored the man's condition, under the supervision of an EMS commander.

Rescuers used a variety of hand tools to dismantle the machinery, including torches, cutters and saws, according to the chief.

Close to 60 responders were on scene, including Lower Windsor Township Police, and each had a specific responsibility during the rescue operation, Weitkamp said.

"Everyone played a big part," he said, then thanked everyone who participated.

As rescuers worked to cut and dismantle the metal machinery, other firefighters stood by, ready to douse any sparks that might be created, the chief said.

A worker lost part of a leg after being trapped inside a piece of machinery at Recycle America on Mount Pisgah Road in Lower Windsor Twp. on Aug 15, 2019.

Surgeon flown in: LifeLion medical helicopter responded to the scene and waited for the patient, until Weitkamp requested the helicopter fly to York Hospital to retrieve an orthopedic surgeon and bring him to the scene, according to the chief.

LifeLion did bring a surgeon to the scene, which happened shortly before rescue and EMS crews rushed the victim to the waiting helicopter, Weitkamp said.

All told, the extrication operation took 112 minutes, the chief said, and the man underwent surgery Thursday night after being flown to York Hospital. The surgeon accompanied the victim on the flight to attend to him.

"It was definitely life-threatening," Weitkamp said of the man's injury.

The chief said he's grateful to everyone who participated in the rescue.

Multiple calls were made to Recycle America for comment on Thursday and Friday. None of the calls was answered. 

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.