Ranchers rally for injured friend
By Gaven Crites
The ranching community in the Meadow Lake area has taken some hits the last few years, Linda Nadon explained. So, organizing a fundraiser for Howard MacCuish while he recovers from a broken leg was important in terms of rallying behind one of their own.
“When an accident happens you can still help the person and there’s a chance for recovery and hope for the future,” Nadon said. “It’s nice to be able to do something for someone like that.”
While working with a firewood processor at his shop on March 1, MacCuish slipped and his right leg was broken in two places below the knee when it was caught in a hydraulic splitter. He tried to dial is brother Leonard who lives nearby for help, but he accidently reached his son William in Alberta.
“I thought it was Leonard I was talking to,” MacCuish said. “I told him to get down here right away because I have a smashed leg. Then the battery on the phone died.”
William made some calls and Leonard got to MacCuish’s place just before his other son Shane arrived. By this time, MacCuish had freed himself from the splitter and made it to the two-way radio in his truck about 30 feet away – using a big pry bar for a crutch.
“I wasn’t real sure if I had somebody coming or not,” he said. “I don’t ever want to make that trip again.”
Today, there’s still some swelling, but the pain is manageable, MacCuish said.
“I think it did so much damage there it killed a bunch of the nerves,” he said. “It was numb. When it flops around and it’s leaking, it’s going to Saskatoon. When you have to pick the pant leg up to make the leg move…yea…it wasn’t good.”
MacCuish said he’s expected to be off work for a year. Being laid up for that long is probably the worst thing, he added.
Rancher Kelly Friedrich was one of the hundred or so in attendance at the benefit for MacCuish and his wife Lea at the Catholic Church Hall in Meadow Lake April 11.
Friedrich’s late husband Newton grew up with the MacCuish boys, she said. They went to school, worked, logged and ranched together. Friedrich said MacCuish is and always has been quick to lend a hand.
“If you’re having trouble on the road, his is the best vehicle to see coming,” she said. “It has all the tools in the back.”
And, if there was a cattle drive, MacCuish was there to ride, Friedrich added.
“I don’t know what he’s going to do because we’re doing a cattle drive tomorrow,” she said. “I think he’s going to have pretty big tears (in is eyes).”
For MacCuish, “a month on the couch is way too long.”
“It will be a long time before I can go back to work,” he said. “What I’m hoping is for it to soon be good enough so I can drive.”
The Saskatchewan Worker’s Compensation Board released workplace-related death and injury statistics recently. The 2012 numbers show the highest number of workplace deaths in three decades and the second worst rate of workplace-related injuries nationwide. A total of 74 people died on the job last year if you include self-insured employers and farm fatalities. Although it dropped from the year before, Saskatchewan’s time-loss injury rate of 2.79 per cent remains a full percentage point above the national average. The agricultural, transportation and manufacturing sectors have some of the highest percentage of workers injured with time loss.
Through personal donations and a silent auction, members of the community raised more than $4,000 for MacCuish and his family at last week’s event.