Scottish fireman who lost hand during training exercise awarded £1.5m

A firefighter whose hand was amputated after he was injured in a training exercise has received £1.5 million in damages.

Ian McDonald, 37, was pierced by a high-pressure jet of hydraulic fluid while using the jaws of life on a training exercise.

Ian McDonald, 37, needed 40 operations after being pierced by a high-pressure jet of hydraulic fluid, the toxic liquid destroying tissue in his right hand.

After a four-year battle to save his hand, doctors were finally forced to amputate.

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Mr McDonald, a father of four from Bishopbriggs, became a whole-time firefighter in 2004 in Castlemilk, Glasgow, responding to the Stockline Plastics explosion in his first week in the job and the 2007 Glasgow Airport terror attack.

But despite the daily risks, he was never seriously injured until March 2014 when two hours after a training exercise at Bishopbriggs fire station he was taken to hospital with a painful and swollen hand.

He said: “I had no idea what was going on – my hand felt like it was on fire and was swollen with a painful throbbing feeling.

“When hospital staff examined me they saw a tiny red dot like a skelf which turned out to be a puncture wound.

“Then when blood tests revealed I was poisoned we realised something happened with the cutting gear.”

It later emerged the hose pipe connecting the generator to the cutting gear had a number of tiny punctures which can appear over time after being dragged over broken glass or metal shards at incidents. One of these punctures caused a fine jet of hydraulic fluid to pierce Mr McDonald’s leather safety gloves.

An investigation into the incident by Digby Brown Solicitors revealed there was an inadequate system of inspection and maintenance for equipment despite the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) knowing about the risks.

David McGown, Deputy Chief Officer of the SFRS, said: “Following a robust investigation into Mr McDonald’s injury, we undertook a review of equipment and related safety checks and have taken appropriate steps to minimise the risk of similar incidents happening in the future.”