Gerald Wilkie was your average Aussie bloke. He loved the outdoors, had a close-knit family, a mortgage and a dog. But the father of three also worked long hours, usually up to 65 a week.
On the 17th of May 2007, his life took a drastic and devastating turn when after getting caught up in a workplace accident, he was forced to do the unthinkable – tear his own arm off in order to save his life.
In the Fighting For Fair podcast, he bravely recounts the terrifying moment he got caught up in the machine, dealing with the aftermath and the fight to return to work that’s still not over.
Wilkie was running a rock crushing plant, doing a routine task that was taught to him by management, when his arm was caught in a machine and dragged in.
“I was managing to hold my own against the machine, looking around for a way out, an emergency stop or something but there wasn’t one,” he said.
In that moment, Wilkie was faced with one enormous decision.
“I was looking death right in the face and I thought I’ve got to get out of here,” he recounted.
The father of three says his life flashed before his eyes.
"I thought about everything in my life, from my mother, the bills, the dog, kids...if I thought about that now it would take me days but it only took me seconds at the time."
The action he was forced to take to get out of the machine was one not many people could go through.
"I had to use my body weight to break my bone and then use a jagged bone to cut the muscle and tear my arm off," he said.
Somehow Wilkie managed to walk 90 metres around the machine and used his foot to kick the only emergency stop that was there. Pushed up against the machine to stem the bleeding, he got his phone out and called his manager who was on speed dial.
"I told him I needed an ambulance and I needed it quick and then hung up on him because I didn't have time to talk to him and discuss what it was about," he said.