When Mike McClain found himself stuck between a rock and a hard place, two New-Mac Electric Cooperative lineworkers were more than happy to help.
And there’s a good chance they saved his foot.
McClain was cleaning up his Creekside Campground in Powell, Missouri, following spring floods. “I was trying to pull a giant piece of concrete with my tractor and when I was securing it to my box blade with a chain, it shifted,” he said. “My leg wound up stuck tight between the box blade and the [concrete] slab.”
The campground was deserted and nearby neighbors couldn’t hear McClain’s cries for help over the noise from the idling tractor.
After 30 minutes, McClain heard the first sounds of engines coming up a nearby road and saw several New-Mac EC vehicles coming down the main road, about 75 yards away.
The crews were replacing and straightening poles damaged by the flooding.
“I yelled and yelled and waved my hands, and one truck stopped and turned around,” said McClain.
The campground entrance was blocked with railroad ties. As McClain continued to call for help, line crew foreman Bob Harris and journeyman Kyle Scott moved the ties and drove across the small bridge onto the property.
“He was waving his arms and he was hollering, ‘Hurry, hurry, help me,’ ” said Harris. “When we got close we could see that he was pinned.”
Scott pulled the tractor forward, backing the box blade off McClain’s leg, and Harris pulled him away from the 6-by-6-foot concrete slab.
“We helped him over to a tree so he could get in the shade,” said Harris. “His leg started to bleed immediately and started swelling.”
Harris called 911, but McClain, determined to get back to his house, refused the ambulance.
“He was disoriented and wanted to get back on his tractor,” Scott recalled. “We offered to drive him home, but he climbed up and drove back across the creek himself.”
Harris and Scott rejoined the crew, never mentioning the incident at work or at home because both men consider it routine to help anyone in need.
But a letter sent to co-op headquarters in late June changed that. McClain recounted what happened, adding that he learned his leg was broken when he went to a hospital for treatment.
“The circulation had been cut off below the injury,” wrote McClain.
“It is not their job to save people but I believe there was a higher power at work and God brought them there at the right time,” said McClain. “Had I been out there three or four hours, I would have probably lost my foot.”
McClain, 62, called both men his “personal heroes” and urged the co-op to find a way to recognize them for their good character and willingness to go “above and beyond” to help someone in need.
“I couldn’t be any more proud of Bob and Kyle. They exemplified the very culture we strive for here at New-Mac of doing the right thing,” said Mitch McCumber, CEO and general manager of Neosho-based New-Mac EC. “Good deeds come from a willingness to serve, and I’m glad to have men like Bob and Kyle on our team.”
Harris and Scott paid a visit to the still-healing McClain June 27 to check on his condition. He thanked them both for helping him out talked about lessons learned from his ordeal.
“I won’t put myself in a position where I could get hurt like that again,” said McClain. “I’ll remember to think about safety and not put a limb between a rock and a hard place.”
Derrill Holly is a staff writer for NRECA.