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Woman thanks CRS crew for saving arm

July 08, 2006|by ERIN JULIUS

Last month, Diana Shafer's arm nearly was torn off after it was caught in machinery at her workplace, the Good Humor-Breyers plant in Hagerstown.

On Friday, Shafer visited the crew she credits with saving her life, and her arm, at Community Rescue Service (CRS).

"A combination of my supervisor with the tourniquet and your decisions saved my life and my arm," Shafer said as she hugged each member of the crew.

Amos said the crew - James Sprecher, Tony Delosier, Damien Teal and Lauren Dofflemyer - will receive a unit citation.

A Maryland State Police helicopter flew Shafer, 41, to Union Memorial Hospital's Curtis National Hand Center in Baltimore following the accident.

Shafer said co-workers have told her she was upset about the helicopter ride initially because all of her friends and family are in Hagerstown and she didn't want them to have to make the drive to see her.

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Now, Shafer is grateful for the trip to Baltimore.

"Don't fight the decisions of the crew," Shafer said. "They know what they're looking at, they know what they're doing and they saved my arm."

During eight hours of surgery, three doctors in Baltimore replaced a vein that was torn out of her arm with a vein from her lower leg, and repaired muscle, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels, Shafer said. Doctors also grafted skin from her thigh to help repair the arm.

Dofflemyer, a medic with the CRS crew, said that she hadn't seen anything like Shafer's nearly amputated limb, but that Shafer was lucky because it was a fairly clean tear.

Shafer's experience shows that "it's not necessarily a bad thing if we put you in a helicopter," CRS chief Christopher Amos said.

Shafer said she has no feeling in her palm area or forearm, but doctors say that only is temporary.

"They're saying feeling will return in nine months to a year ... Nerves regenerate after about a month," Shafer said. She compared the current sensation in her arm to how it feels when a limb falls asleep.

Shafer said she has a big support group, and her best friend is staying with her.

"I can't do everything one-handed ... You take everything for granted until you're missing something," she said.

Shafer soon will start occupational therapy.

"I have to learn to do everything over again with this arm," she said. "They said I wouldn't ride a motorcycle again, but we'll see."

Shafer returns to Baltimore in August to be re-evaluated, and said she hopes to return to work.

"I'm hoping to do the same job I did when this happened," she said.

Because Shafer's accident was work-related, Maryland Occupational Safety and Health is investigating. The case still is open and under review by MOSH officials, said Linda Sherman, director of communications for the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, which includes MOSH.

Staff writer Pepper Ballard contributed to this story.

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