18 Jul Dennis Rosolin shares his farm accident | Farm Safety Week
Dennis Rosolin remembers the moment he realised the severity of his accident. It was right after Timboon paramedic Chris Stewart had arrived at the Rosolin’s Glenfyne dairy farm and called the air ambulance. The chopper was to meet them at the Cobden airstrip and take Dennis to the Royal Melbourne Hospital.
The 6th of November 2020 was just another day on the farm for Dennis. Dennis has been a dairy farmer for over 40 years. On this particular day he walked past the shed and noted that the front-end loader was parked with the front forks raised about 6 feet into the air. He noted it, and thought about lowering the lift arms, but didn’t do it right then.
After lunch he headed out on his farm quad bike to do a couple of jobs around the property. When he returned, he ran into the forks on the front-end loader side-on.
Dennis readily admits that “the ducks lined up” for this to be a major catastrophe. He wasn’t wearing a helmet and he was riding too fast (about 30-40 km/hr).
Dennis was knocked unconscious and estimates that he was out for several minutes. He immediately knew what he had done. He felt around and could feel some injuries to his face. There was a flap of skin hanging loose. There was blood everywhere. He pushed the skin back up and got back on his bike to ride to the house.
Luckily Dennis and wife Robyn’s eldest daughter Amy was there – even though she no longer lives at home. Amy assessed the situation and insisted on calling 000. About twelve minutes later Chris Stewart arrived and conducted a further assessment of Dennis’s condition.
Dennis still recalls the four questions that Chris asked him – and his responses. He was then bandaged up, given some pain relief, put onto a stretcher, and wheeled outside. Dennis has little recollection of this. He has some memory of feeling unwell during the flight and vomiting. When he next came to, he was in emergency.
Various scans were carried out and it was determined that the bone behind the eye was damaged. The very next day (Saturday) Dennis was in surgery. By Tuesday a plate was inserted under his left eyeball. It was adjusted in another surgical procedure two days later.
Dennis returned home from Melbourne 10 days later. But there was still more recovery time needed. Dennis was unable to drive and needed to rest. For the following 6-7 weeks he relied on family and staff to carry out his normal farm duties. During this time Dennis also needed to return to the Royal Melbourne Hospital weekly for ongoing follow-ups.
Throughout the month following his accident he was experiencing double vision that wasn’t going away. Dennis was booked for surgery again, where they removed the plate and a little bit of bone that was still present at the back of the eye socket. Four days later the double vision went away.
It’s now a waiting game with respect to having a plate reinserted, as it’s considered elective surgery. It means that Dennis’s left eyeball is sitting out of place, and he must be very careful, particularly in and around water. He has also been warned of a small chance of going blind in that eye.
Dennis has also suffered some neurological impairment, particularly with short-term memory loss.
Dennis said that suffering a traumatic injury like this is a humbling experience.
“Having a near-death experience, it changes your view on life. It is humbling the help you receive from family and friends” Dennis said.
“Even though I was the only one physically affected, it had a wide impact on the family. Everyone had to step up,” Dennis added.
“The level of attention and follow up care was amazing. I couldn’t say enough for the doctors and nurses who took care of me. They are amazing,” Dennis said.
In speaking with Dennis, you can see that his positive outlook on life has helped him through his traumatic accident and recovery. He credits part of this to his good sense of humour. Dennis recalls having a joke with medical staff about the plate behind his eye needing adjustment. He asked, “Is this going to cost me more?” They assured him “It’s under warranty.”
With the benefit of hindsight Dennis now tends to take things a bit slower. He considers some reasons why farm accidents might happen include: farmer complacency and the increased average age of farmers leading to reduced reactivity time.
While accidents will happen, the incident was “definitely avoidable” according to Dennis. His advice to others is to “slow down and have a look around you.” He also cites the Worksafe campaign slogan “It’s never you, until it is.”
Farm Safety Week 2022 runs from 18th-24th July. This year’s theme is “Recipe for Averting Disaster”.
Farm Safety Week 2022 will focus on a number of intangible risks and hazards such as fatigue, complacency, the blurred line between the home and work environment, labour shortages and the aging workforce, wellbeing and many other issues that combine to make Australian farms one of the most dangerous work environments.
Read more here: https://farmsafe.org.au/farm-safety-week-2022