Steve McCormack was working on his truck at Opotiki, on New Zealand?s North Island, when he slipped between the cab and trailer of his truck, dislodging the compressed air hose that feeds the brakes.
The brass fitting to the hose pierced Steve?s left buttock in the fall and air compressed to 100 psi rushed into his body, causing swelling in his neck, hands and feet.
?I was blowing up like a balloon,? Steve recalled. ?I looked like the Michelin man!?
Three workmates at Waiotahi Contractors heard Steve?s screams. Company co-owner Robbie Petersen released the pressurised container?s safety valve to stop the air flow. He and the other two men then put Steve on his side in the recovery position, enabling him to breathe, and retrieved ice to ease his swelling.
It took an ambulance an hour to reach the patient. Aided by a doctor, ambulance officers removed the brass nipple from his rear. Steve was then transported to Whakatane Hospital where doctors inserted a tube to drain excess fluid from his lungs and cleared the wound in his buttock. It took another three days for the gas to exit his body. Doctors later told Steve that the air separated fat from muscle and they were surprised his skin did not burst.
Steve McCormack credited his workmates for saving his life. The bizarre workplace accident has been reported to the NZ Department of Labour.
Sources: New Zealand Herald, The Age