It began Sunday morning when T.J. Barnes received a call about a leak in the City of White Salmon’s Buck Creek waterline. As the on-call operator for the city, it was his responsibility to respond to the incident. He quickly left to inspect the situation and as he approached the area, he could see a lot of water bubbling from the street. He knew this was serious and immediately contacted his crew to assist him. By 6 p.m., the main waterline was shut off, pipes were exposed, needed parts were ordered and plans were made for the repairs on Monday.
The next day, Barnes was back on-site by 9 a.m., to help with repairs. Without hesitation, he jumped into the hole, picked up the circular saw and carefully began cutting the pipe – a job he had done many times. About half way through the task, the saw caught an edge and kicked back hitting Barnes directly in the chest. In shock and still holding the saw, he climbed out of the ditch. “Everyone was asking if I was OK,” said Barnes. “I wasn’t sure until I pulled back my shirt to find a three-inch deep wound in my chest. The only thing I could do was remain calm and wait for help to arrive.”
The crew called 911 and the ambulance transported him to Skyline Health where the medical team went to work determining the course of care needed for his survival. Not knowing the extent of Barnes injury, Life Flight waited in the wings in case he needed to be flown to a trauma hospital in Portland.
“Although he had a significant deep wound across his chest, his vital signs were fairly normal. This gave us hope the trauma wasn’t as bad as we initially expected,” said Keri Kelly, R.N., emergency room nurse manager. “Once the X-ray results came back, we could see the chest muscle and rib bone had stopped the saw from hitting his lung. This may have saved his life.”
Once the ER staff concluded he was not in critical condition, Barnes was taken to surgery where General Surgeon, Seth Lambert, D.O., cleaned and sutured his chest. “It was unbelievable! The Skyline team worked in sync to assess my medical needs and provide the best care – always ensuring my family was informed and looked after,” continued Barnes. “My care was so excellent, I left the hospital the same day.”
Just weeks after his accident, Barnes went back to work. “I was amazed at how quickly I healed and was able to return to normal life,” he said. “I feel blessed to have had the support and compassionate care of Skyline’s cohesive team. I knew I was in the best of hands.”