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Fire chief's workplace injury requires reconstructive surgery

Most workplace accidents occur as the result of an employer’s failure to abide by prescribed safety regulations. However, once in a while, a freak accident happens that cannot be blamed on anyone. A California fire chief recently had to undergo reconstructive surgery after such an unanticipated workplace injury.

The fire department reportedly received a call from maintenance crews who were clearing dense undergrowth, concerned that they might start a fire. The fire chief, along with some firefighters, went to inspect the site, and while there, a sizable rock hit him in his face. The impact was so unexpected that the fire chief thought he had been shot in the face. He called for help on his radio, and police searched the area for the suspected gunman.

Paramedics arrived and said that the trauma to his face was so severe that they also thought it to be a wound caused by a gunshot. However, when no suspect was found, it was determined that the mower used by the maintenance crew had flung a rock. Further investigation led to the discovery of the large rock that caused the severe damage to his face. The critically injured fire chief was airlifted to a hospital, and although he is expected to survive, he underwent the first of a series of reconstructive surgeries that same day. A fire department spokesman said that there will likely be more surgical procedures to follow.

An incident that causes such a severe workplace injury requiring a series of surgical procedures will naturally bring about huge medical bills. Fortunately, the workers’ compensation insurance fund aims to provide financial aid to injured employees in California. By filing a claim for benefits, the fund may compensate the fire chief for medical expenses and a portion of lost income. Individuals who experience difficulties with the claiming procedures may seek assistance.

Source: The Press-Enterprise, "Fire chief critically injured in 'freak accident'", Sarah Burge, July 3, 2014

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