OSSEO, Wisc. (WEAU) - Five months after a roto-tiller accident ended in amputation, the Osseo Fire Chief is walking and working, on his new prosthetic leg.
"It was three seconds from being fine to the rototiller trying to eat me alive. It was starting to take my whole body in," Gunderson said in May, just nine days after the accident.
He said a normal Sunday preparing the corn field at his rural Osseo home with his son, took a quick turn when he found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Suffering severe blood loss, he used his belt as a tourniquet, had his son call 9-1-1 for a helicopter, and then his brother, Kirk, a Mayo flight paramedic.
"That's why I'm home here today, is because within an hour I went from Osseo to Mayo on the surgery table." "I knew ... If I'm gonna make it, I'm gonna make it. With this crew here, if I don't make it, there was nothing we could do about it. "
In Rochester, Gunderson said he soon found out his leg needed to be amputated below the knee, and after his surgery, he was able to go home just three days later.
Gunderson said he healed up and got back to work at his Chevrolet dealership less than two months later.
"I took my first step on July 9, so I guess I'd have to say that's when it was healed completely. We got to start walking and since then, it's been getting better and better," he said.
He said finding a replacement leg has been difficult, but that the possibilities are endless.
"The biggest thing has been the prosthetic process, it's a constant evolution, that will probably take another 18 months, to 24 months to get complete, but we're on our second leg," he said. "The options are as many as buying a car when it comes to getting a leg, so technology keeps changing."
"What I have right now is a vacuum mounted mount, and a spring loaded foot and that gives me, I would say about 85 percent of what I want to do."
He says it takes a little longer to get going in the morning and he's still regaining strength, but for the most part, things are back to normal.
"So far, I haven't found too many things I can't do, I'm going to fires, I'm fighting fires, we went elk hunting, I come into work every day and put in a full day." "Am I as quick as I used to be? No. I wasn't very fast back then, but we're still able to get everything done we need to do."
"It does feel good to kind of put it behind you. One step at a time, as they say," Gunderson said.