James Valentine of Adler Tree Service in Gibsonia, Penn. survived a chainsaw accident that was within centimeters of a vital artery in his neck.
The 21-year-old was doing a job March 31 in Ross Township when the chainsaw “kicked back,” CNN reports.
The chainsaw was lodged into his neck and shoulder, but thanks to the quick action of medical help and co-workers, he lived.
“It was the worst pain I’d ever even thought of,” Valentine said in video to KDKA news.
Valentine’s co-workers detached the motor from the blade of the chainsaw, but left the blade — knowing the artery could be compromised if they removed it. They held it in place until responders arrived.
According to Allegheny General Hospital spokeswoman Jennifer Davis, Valentine was awake and alert on the ambulance ride.
The trauma unit had only ten minutes to prepare for Valentine, unit director Dr. Christine Toevs told CNN.
Valentine’s injuries were mostly to his muscles and soft tissue around the shoulder. Toevs said this was different than the major damage to the spinal cord, esophagus, or the airway that is usually seen with these kinds of accidents.
Doctors removed the blade after he was stable.
Valentine underwent an hour-long surgery with 30 stitches and is now recovering in stable condition.
“He looks more like himself, he’s walking and talking today,” Becca, Valentine’s sister, told CNN. “We can’t believe it at all.”