David Butler, from Athy, Co. Kildare said he is “lucky to be alive” after sustaining life-threatening injuries when a tree felling exercise went wrong.
The farmer owns a number of roadside trees that are up to two-hundred-years-old; he was concerned about branches falling on the road.
He attended a one-day seminar on assessing dangers trees and after he returned home, he identified six trees that required attention; David had arranged for a friend to assist him with the activity.
David was feeling unwell that morning – he had a chest infection which clouded his judgement, but he still proceeded with the task.
One of the trees began twisting when David was cutting it, but he had planned an escape route.
“The last thing I remember was running and saying ‘oh dear’. I threw the chainsaw under the tree and that is the last thing I remember.” David Butler said in a video produced by the HSA.
“I woke up two-and-a-half-months later. A helicopter was called in because it was an agricultural accident.”
“They didn’t know it was beside the road and that is what saved my life, I think.”He added.
After the accident
David arrived at Tallaght Hospital twelve-minutes later; he said he was lucky that he received immediate and prompt attention.
He remained in Tallaght Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit for approximately two months following the accident. “I got hospital-acquired pneumonia, I nearly died twice. My kidneys went out – I was on dialysis.” He explained.
“The only things that were working were my heart and liver – my body died virtually. All my muscle wasted away.”
David had broken his back in three places, had broken all his ribs, his lungs were punctured, his shoulder was broken in two places and he had gashed his head.
He was transferred to the Mater Hospital where rods were inserted into his back. The Kildare farmer was in hospital for six months - his initial time in Tallaght, the Mater for one-week, Tallaght for another period followed by the Peamount Hospital for rehabilitation.
“I went to the Peamount Hospital on a wheelchair and two weeks later I was walking with a zimmer frame.”
“The biggest problem then was coming off the opiates. That took a year-and-half – that was tough going for me and everyone around me.”
It took David about two years to fully recover from the accident; he said his families’ lives were “put out of joint” for this length of time.
David said he was working and was working to a very tight schedule. “I broke my own rule, which is not to do things when you’re tired or sick.”
“You will have all the time in the world in your coffin, you don’t have the time to enjoy your grandchildren.”
“It [the accident] has changed my attitude towards life – I am much calmer, I certainly take my time about things and I am much more safety-conscious.”
“I have my family and I am really lucky,” David concluded.
When felling trees, always hire a professional – it might just save your life – this advice has been issued by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA).
Image source: HSA