-WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT-
Kristian Martens table saw injury results in many hours of physical therapy.
Kristian Martens is a small-town, born and raised, 18-year-old boy. After graduation, he went to SAIT and is in his first year of petroleum engineering. He spent his whole youth life in Three Hills, Alta, attending the public school and working on a farm called Penwest Seeds.
His job mostly consisted of yard maintenance and combining in the fall, but last year, Martens had an accident while on the job.
On Jan. 7, 2016, he arrived at work and was put in charge of cutting wood to fix floors in a barn at Penwest Seeds.
“I was pretty experienced with table saws because I’ve used them before. So I wasn’t worried of anything going wrong.”
About 10 minutes into his work day, he started cutting the first piece of wood. The wood was too big for him to handle it and it started to tip off the side of the table saw.
Trying to correct it, Martens pushed down on the wood with his right hand on the opposite end of the board to try to stabilize it and that is when it caught a piece of grain from the wood and his hand went into the table saw.
“At first I didn’t think my hand was cut; then I looked down at my hand and I saw my bones,” said Martens.
Immediately afterwards, Martens went to his boss, Larry Penner, and Penner then immediately drove him to the hospital because he was losing a lot of blood.
While he was at the Three Hills Hospital, Martens got a few x-rays of his hand and the doctors attempted to stitch up some of the places and gave him some pain killers.
Martens injuries were too severe for Three Hills Hospital, so his parents, Laurie and Ian Martens, drove him to Red Deer Hospital.
“I was at the hospital when Kristian came in after his accident,” said Laurie Martens, who works at the Three Hills Hospital. The admitting desk clerk had called her office to let her know that Kristian was there.
“I could tell by the tone of her voice that it was serious. At that moment I felt instant worry and panic, I had to go see what happened and to see if he was okay.”
When they got to Red Deer, Kristian Martens went into surgery. There they had to reattach all of his tendons in his middle, index, and ring fingers. His middle finger was the worst because it was cut diagonally down through it, slicing his bone in half.
“Waiting for someone when they are in surgery seems like a lifetime.”
“I prayed that they would not have to amputate any fingers.”
“Myself and Kristian’s dad left the hospital for a while to get something to eat to help pass the time. We also spent time texting and returning calls from concerned family and friends,” said Laurie Martens.
Kristian Martens got 21 stitches between his three fingers and two pins in the middle finger. From the tips of his fingers to his elbow was wrapped in a cast.
Physical therapy started about a month after the injury and went until mid-summer, recalled Kristian Martens. He had to manipulate his fingers to bend again, because at the start of recovery they wouldn’t bend.
“My fingers felt dead. I lost all feeling in them. They sort of were like a stiff board.”
One of the exercises that his physio therapists often got him to do was to run his hand through sand to stimulate his fingers.
Being in a cast for that long was the hardest part.
“It was my writing had so I couldn’t really do anything. The only good thing that came out of it all was that I got to get out of diplomas: physics and English.”
“When he first let me know what happened my initial reaction was fear for Kristian and his well-being,” recalled Owen Van Doren, Kristian Martens’ best friend.
Van Doren assumed the worst and feared that his friend would be missing some fingers the next time he saw him.
“He is my best friend and news like this isn’t what you want to hear.”
During one of Kristian Martens’ doctor appointments he sent Van Doren a picture of his hand.
“The hand definitely looked like it had been through a table saw,” laughed Van Doren.
Van Doren added by saying that in the months after the incident the scars were quite noticeable.
“But in my opinion, they look pretty cool.”
He was glad to hear that Martens would recover from this injury and be able to play right field again on their softball team that summer.
“It’ll never look the same, that’s for sure,” Kristian Martens said ruefully.
“And I don’t think I’ll be able to move my top knuckle on my middle finger again.”