Just before midnight on Nov. 21, 2011 Larry Stevens underwent emergency surgery at Foothills Medical Centre. When he awoke, his right leg was gone – amputated below the knee. Although it’s not the outcome he’d hoped for, Larry is grateful to be alive given his predicament the day before. Working on the family farm near Stettler, AB about 45 minutes east of Red Deer, Larry slipped while standing inside an icy silage wagon, breaking and trapping his leg in a mechanized auger.

His coworker called 911.

“I stayed calm and cool while we waited for help, but the pain was incredible,” said Larry, who was initially wedged into the machine so tightly he had difficulty breathing. “I was in the wrong place and I fell in at the perfect time and it sucked me down,” he said. “I was really wedged in there.”

The temperature sank to about -20C as daylight slipped away. “Figuring out to get me out of the auger without doing more damage was the tough part,” said Larry.

Hours later, thanks to teamwork by STARS, emergency responders and a stranger driving by the scene with a picker truck, Larry was hoisted from the machine and flown to Foothills Medical Centre, avoiding a lengthy ground transfer.

He was devastated to have lost his leg in the ordeal. “Despite everyone’s best efforts the muscles were too beat up and damaged to repair,” he said.

Larry keeps in touch with STARS and helps spread the word whenever he gets the chance.

“Before, STARS was a group that flew around and saved other people’s lives,” said Larry, who was 37 at the time. “Now they mean much more.”

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