Ship’s cook saves life of fisherman who lost leg

A FISHERMAN has lost his leg in an accident at sea when a rope became wrapped around the limb and “snapped” it in two.

Paul Buchan in the hospital with his son Thomas. Picture: Hemedia

Paul Buchan was at risk of bleeding to death on his vessel in the middle of the North Sea but his life was saved by the quick actions of the ship’s cook.

Mr Buchan, 22, survived after chef Charlie McDonald tied a tourniquet to the mangled remains of the leg to stop the bleeding.

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The fisherman was airlifted to hospital where surgeons had to amputate his leg at the thigh because of the extent of the injuries.

Paul Buchan with the crew-mate who saved his life, Charlie McDonald, left. Picture: Hemedia

He was 50 miles off the coast in the North Sea passing a rope to another boat when the incident happened.

“My leg got hauled up. I heard a crack – a snap – and I froze,” Mr Buchan said. “I tried to block the pain out. I don’t know how I managed. I knew my leg was bleeding, but I didn’t know it had snapped off. I didn’t look down.”

While Mr McDonald attempted to stem the bleeding, the skipper of the Fruitful Vine, John Nichol, alerted the coastguard. Mr Buchan was then taken by helicopter to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

“Charlie and John were trying to take my mind off it. They were in more shock than me,” Mr Buchan said.

“I’ve never even broken a bone before, and now the worst possible thing has happened.”

Mr Buchan, who left school at 16 to go to sea, is from a long line of fishermen, including his father Andrew who was at the hospital when the doctors operated. He admitted he could not bring himself the break the news to his son that his leg was gone.

“I said the doctor could, and we would be there for support,” Andrew Buchan said. “I don’t know where you start breaking news like that. The surgeon spoke to us on Saturday and told us they had taken his leg off just below the knee then on Monday he was taken into the operating theatre again and more was taken off, this time just above the knee.

“We were told that the cook did an excellent job with the tourniquet and we’d like to thank him because he probably saved Paul’s life.”

Speaking about his son’s recovery Andrew Buchan said: “He’s coming on really well all things considered.

“He’s up and about in his wheelchair, which was a surprise, and he’s making jokes.

“He asked when he was lying in the hospital bed if he would get back to sea again, I didn’t know what to say to him but for health and safety reasons I don’t think he will.”