Logging truck driver makes lifesaving decision to lose his own leg
A logging truck driver saved his own life by using the skills gained from years of volunteer firefighting with the Orting Fire Department. And he did it all while his legs were crushed by a logging trailer.
Troy West of Buckley was loading his logging truck near Lake Kapowsin when the truck began to slide down the icy-sloped road, trapping him underneath.
“The log truck trailer skidded over my leg, and I basically spun around underneath the trailer and by the time I did that, it was already crunching over my leg,” he told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson Show.
In the span of a heartbeat, the logging truck driver had to make the most difficult decision anyone could imagine.
“It was a split-second, it started to pull me in, and that’s when I shoved my foot against the rear duals of the trailer and basically ripped my leg almost all the way off,” he said. “They couldn’t repair it, it was so bad.”
Despite the pain, blood loss, and the horror of realizing he had lost his leg, West remained level-headed and took charge of the situation, as if he were firefighting again. The former fire captain and commissioner immediately directed his coworkers to make a tourniquet from one of the men’s belts and told them which medic units he wanted.
“I told them, ‘You gotta remember the three Cs that I learned in the fire service: cool, calm, and collected,'” he said. “And if one of those are missed, I could’ve died. Because if I’d have been knocked out, they wouldn’t have known what to do.”
West very nearly died from the blood loss. When he arrived at Harborview Medical Center, he had to be given five bags of blood and four of plasma.
“I was almost out of blood — they said another 20 minutes and I wouldn’t even be here, there’s no way I could have sustained that,” West said. “So thank goodness that the fire department got there when they did.”
West said that the accident shows the importance of always having an item on-hand that can be used as a tourniquet, such as a belt or suspenders.
“People don’t realize there are a lot of things you can use for a tourniquet, if you have to,” he said.
Nearly four months later, West is recovering from the ordeal and will soon receive a prosthetic leg. However, medical expenses have been high for his family.
To help with the cost, a dinner and auction will be held at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 11 the Buckley Eagles #1387. A $20 ticket includes a barbecue chicken dinner, live music and dancing, and admission to a silent and live auction. Tickets can be purchased at the Buckley, Ortin, and Wilkeson Eagles Clubs, and at Northwest Fitness Zone in Buckley.
If you are unable to make the dinner, you can still contribute to West’s recovery. Visit the Troy West Benefit Facebook page to learn more about ways you can help out.
West’s optimistic attitude keeps him going, and he advises anyone going through a tough time to remain upbeat and move forward.
“Keep your head up,” he said. “Everyone who comes to see me in my household is all positive, there’s no negative here.”