Getting to know... an amputee EMT
Sunday, February 24, 2013 7:00 PM
BY JOE SHOUSE
It's amazing how in minutes your whole life can change. But, for Kyle Wobler, it wasn't minutes, but rather a few fast-moving seconds he can play over and over in his mind in great detail.
The details take a few minutes to explain and understand, but the event was quick; just seconds and not very pretty. However, the results could not have been scripted any better by the best Hollywood writers.Just a few months removed from his high school graduation at Wayne Trace, Wobler was traveling home from an all-night shift at work. It was a typical warm August morning in 2010 and Wobler was traveling on U.S. 30 near the rest area and Richey Road when the turn of events started spinning helplessly before him.
"It was Aug. 16 and I left work with a stop at Huggy Bear Camp at Middle Point before continuing home at about 9:30 a.m.," he recalled.
Driving a 2003 Mitsubishi, Wobler was struggling to stay awake and had drifted over the rumble strips only to be awakened by the sound.
"After the warning of the rumble strips a couple of times, I put my seat belt on and continued," he said.
Still fighting sleep, the 18-year-old could not control his need for sleep and in a few short minutes the accident he still replays changed his life forever. The Wayne Trace grad not only drifted to sleep, but this time he drifted into the median and when he realized his situation it was too late.
"I went into the grassy area of the median, hitting a little drainage ditch and it knocked me out briefly. Then I tangled with a guard rail and fence then spun around and came to a stop," Wobler said.
Possibly in shock, yet still strong enough to fight his way out of the vehicle, Wobler managed to walk around the wrecked car and look up towards the highway only to see the tops of semis as they sped by.
He remembered, "I finally looked down at my right leg and saw two bones sticking out from the flesh and covered with blood and my ankle was just dangling lifeless at the side. I thought I was going to bleed to death."
In all the pain and fear, Wobler knew he needed to get the attention of someone from the highway. Down on all fours and grabbing hold of the tall weeds in the grassy median, he desperately tried to pull himself up to U.S. 30. But, he quickly realized it was to no avail. In the meantime, he heard a voice, and as he looked closely, he saw a person at the top of the median on a cell phone.
"With all my strength I yelled to the stranger to call 9-1-1."
Soon a state trooper arrived, and Wobler asked him to call his dad, Steve, and tell him about the accident. Coughing up blood and getting weaker, Wobler could hear the sound of the medical personnel getting closer. After they arrived, the squad took Wobler on a quick trip to Van Wert Hospital before being quickly life-flighted to Parkview Hospital in Fort Wayne.
But, who was the stranger?
"He was a truck driver from Auburn, Ind. and his name was Albert Hague," Wobler said. "He came to visit me while I was in the hospital and we have talked on a couple of occasions."
After arriving at Parkview, it was determined that Wobler had a compound fracture of the tibia and fibula requiring emergency surgery. A series of rods, plates and screws were inserted in his ankle along with repair work to the leg fractures. He remained hospitalized for five days then walked out of the hospital with no crutches and hopes of a full recovery.
Unfortunately, his time away from the hospital was short-lived. After being home for a day or so, he started having complications with fever and a foul odor coming from the injured leg.
"I went back to the ER and they did some minor surgery and then cleaned out the wounded area three times during the next five days." Wobler recalled, "It was determined the dirty drainage water had infected the open wounds of the leg. At that point a decision needed to be made. The leg could be fused back together or amputate the leg just below the knee.
"The doctors said if they fused it together it would be a two-year process and still would not be the same. There would be ongoing physical issues as well as a change in my entire personality," said Wobler.
Amputation would obviously require a prosthetic limb, but the doctors explained to Wobler how, in a short period of time, he would be back to normal. With no hesitation the good looking young man with a determined heart chose amputation. The leg was amputated on Aug. 30 and he spent three or four days in the hospital.
From the day of the accident to the day he walked out of the hospital, unassisted, with a prosthetic leg, was six weeks. He has not stopped living a dream that was always in his mind all along, but may have taken an accident to fully live it out.
Now, more than two years later, the 21-year-old is reaching his goals in life. He was cleared to go back to work full-time in March 2011. Although there was some apprehension in getting his old job back, he now has the same boss and is in the same department as he was prior to the accident.
His supervisor, Scott Clay, said, "It's amazing to see what he can do now that he's back at work." Part of Wobler's job is lifting racks weighing as much as 70 pounds and placing them on a monorail.
Wobler has always had dreams of being a fireman. That shouldn't be a big surprise to those who know him because it is a family thing. His grandpa, Jim Miller, is a former Payne fire chief, Kyle's dad was a member of the fire department and today his cousin, Jamie Mansfield, is the current chief.
"It's something I have dreamed about and always wanted to be a firefighter. The accident has taught me a lot of lessons. One being how life can change in an instant," Wobler mused.
In order for his dream to come true, Wobler had to go through hours of necessary training. The 120 training hours consisted of class work and physical training, including the working of a live burn.
"It's exciting to be a firefighter and I am thankful to have the opportunity to serve my community, but it's more than that," he said. "I want to inspire others who are going through difficulty how they too, can work hard and do something about it."
According to Wobler, the accident on that summer morning made him grow up and become a gentleman; a person with purpose and a dream to fulfill.
"It made me appreciate life. Knowing that something can happen and in a few seconds change your entire life," he said.
But, the dream and purpose doesn't stop there. Today, Wobler is not only a Payne firefighter, but has added to his credentials is the title of EMT. Just recently, in January, Wobler successfully completed an additional 120 hours of training to become an EMT.
"It's a dream job. That's what I've always wanted to become and now I can live out the dream by helping others," concluded Wobler.
Now, with the Aug. 16, 2010 accident behind him, he will continue to help those in need and do what he can to make a positive difference, whether it is playing the role of a fireman or sharing with a young person about how they can succeed if they live out their dreams. That's really his dream job.