On the afternoon of Wednesday, May 22, David Errthum was at home putting the final touches on a family room remodeling project. His youngest daughter’s graduation party was at their home that Saturday and he only had two pieces of trim to add to complete the room.
David was sawing the wooden trim with a 12” chop saw, when the wood moved. Focused on the cut of the board, David reached his left arm over to hold it, when he sawed through the wood and then nearly severed his hand. David yelled for his wife and daughter, who called 911. Knowing he was in trouble, he wrapped his arm in dishtowels and kneeled on the steps of his deck, applying pressure.
When the Holy Cross ambulance crew arrived they placed a tourniquet on Dave’s arm and had him hold it on ice as they rushed him to Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinics (GMHC).
The ambulance gave GMHC notice that they were to arrive shortly with a severely injured man. The trauma team was activated and was waiting in the Emergency Department when the ambulance arrived. The injury was assessed as a nearly complete amputation of David’s left hand. Only about an inch of tissue kept his hand attached to his arm.
While waiting for the medical helicopter to arrive to transport him to Iowa City, further evaluation was done. Dr. Daniel Mansfield, general surgeon, wanted to do whatever was possible to give David the best chance of saving his hand.
“My surgeons in Iowa City were very impressed with the response time and work done here at GMHC. They credit you all for saving my hand.”
“We gently released the tourniquet and were able to control the arterial bleeding. Then we were able to see if there was any ow from the other artery making it to the hand. And amazingly there was! We knew that this would give him the best chance to save his hand,” said Mansfield.
David’s hand and arm were stabilized in a splint and he was prepared for helicopter transport.
A surgical team at the University of Iowa spent nearly eight hours reconstructing and reattaching David’s hand.
When David awoke, he was surrounded by his wife and all four of his daughters. He was released two days later, on Friday, May 24.
With the overwhelming help of his friends and family, the graduation party for his daughter went on as planned the next day, becoming an appreciation party too.
David recently had an opportunity to visit with the trauma team at GMHC who helped him.
“Thank you,” said David gratefully as he showed them his arm. “My surgeons in Iowa City were very impressed with the response time and work done here at GMHC. They credit you all for saving my hand.”
David’s arm is still in a compression glove and a splint, and with continued physical therapy, he anticipates full use of it once again.
When reflecting on the accident, David was overwhelmed with gratitude for everyone who has assisted him during his recovery. “I’m a pretty independant guy,” he said. “I’m not good at having to rely on others, but this accident gave me so many opportunities to spend time with my family and friends because I had to depend on them. I’m humbled by all who have helped me and will be forever grateful.”