Gary McArdle is back working as an earth mover in Hamilton at the same workplace that he suffered a horrific accident that saw his leg amputated.
That tragic day on April 11 last year started out like any other, but would end with Mr McArdle in hospital for three months.
He was picking up an excavator near Hamilton's town centre when the ramps on the back of the truck fell and pinned him underneath.
Graphic images of the accident scene show swarms of emergency services surrounding a limp Mr McArdle, his legs wedged under the large truck.
He had multiple surgeries before his leg was amputated.
"I woke up out of a coma three days later and I had this big thing on my leg, it was like a big frame, and that's when it hit me that my leg was missing," Mr McArdle said.
His partner Kylie Pearce was by his side the whole time.
"During the first surgery, after about five hours, the surgeon came out and at that stage Gary still had his leg, and he explained the extent of the damage to the bones," Ms Pearce said.
"Two of the main arteries in his leg were both severed. He went back to theatre and six hours later came back with a below knee amputation.
"Then the following week he went back to theatre again, and the surgeon called me and said the bone was not viable and they had to got through the knee.
"The first thing Gary said when he woke up was, 'I'm alive, I'm alive!'"
The company Mr McArdle works for, Walkers Earthworks Pty Ltd, was fined $25,000 plus costs for breaches of Worksafe legislation for the accident, which turned out was due to lack of maintenance.
Mr McArdle was back at work six months after the accident, and has been nominated for Worksafe's Worker Return to Work Achievement Award.
"They found out it was due to poor maintenance, but it was just a freak accident. You have to accept it and move on," Mr McArdle said.
"I was in the hospital for six weeks and rehab for another six weeks, learning to walk again, learning to use the prosthetic leg and learning to get mobile again.
"It was my first time ever in hospital, it was all a bit of a shock.
"At the start it was a huge mental battle, it was hard to even get out of bed, but I just had to get up and get going again."
Since that time he has learned to walk again, got his manual license back, taken up golf and returned to a full-time workload.
The father of three has worked in earth moving his whole life and owned his own business for 23 years.
He was all smiles despite suffering constant pain and phantom pain.
"There's pain all the time, it's horrific. You can feel your foot plain as day still," he said.
"I guess your mind remembers the crush and the pain of the crush too.
"It doesn't seem to go away, it's always there. It just comes in different strengths.
"That's a hard part to deal with, daily, and night time is even worse when you sort of stop for the day."
Ms Pearce said Gary was "amazing".
"We were told people who have his injuries don't return to work for two years and don't walk for a long time," she said.
"When he tried his prosthetic leg for the first time, his kids were all there, and he took some steps. The physio just looked at him in amazement.
"It was his own self-motivation that got him there. He will not give himself credit, I've never met anyone so humble.
"He's just amazing in how driven he is to get back to normal life."
Mr McArdle said there was no animosity towards Walkers Earthworks.
"They gave me the opportunity to come back full time so I took it, I know all the people there, they all supported me through the accident, there wasn't one person that didn't support me," he said.
"No-one holds anyone responsible really, accidents happen."
The pair have been frustrated with some aspects of his recovery journey, which at times has involved a lot of red tape and jumping through hoops.
"I've received no compensation yet, that's one of the reasons I had to go back to work, you've got to keep making money," Mr McArdle said.
They said they couldn't fault the help of the medical staff and first responders on the day.
"They were amazing, if it wasn't for the team at the Royal Melbourne there's no way he would be here," Ms Pearce said.
"If it wasn't for his work mate and his quick thinking actions on that day he wouldn't be here either. He didn't take off the ramps and he rang for help straight away.
"All those emergency services, many of them volunteers, were amazing too. We can't thank them enough."
The award winners will be announced at the WorkSafe Awards Dinner at Melbourne Town Hall on October 31.
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