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Soberanes firefighter suffers serious workplace injuries

A wildfire on California's scenic Big Sur coast has been burning for more than two months. Along with the enormous cost of fighting it, the lives of firefighters are on the line every day. The California Division of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration reported that one man suffered workplace injuries while partaking in firefighting activities. As water tender operator, the injured victim had a primary responsibility for wildfire support.

According to an incident report, fire personnel noticed a vehicle that had rolled down an embankment shortly before 9 a.m. on Sept. 11 and alerted the U.S. Forest Service. The 60-year-old operator was reportedly driving west of the blaze when his truck rolled approximately 300 feet down a steep slope. The man suffered serious injuries.

While awaiting an evacuation helicopter to transport the injured worker to a medical center in Salinas, responders on the ground worked on stabilizing the victim. This included four medics, a hotshot crew and an extrication team. According to the U.S. Forest Service, the man -- who is an employee of Industrial Defense Development Inc. -- suffered internal injuries, and his condition was reported to be stable.

Whenever California workers suffer workplace injuries, they are entitled to pursue financial assistance to cope with medical expenses. Injured workers may file benefits claims with the workers' compensation insurance program. Lost income for the time spent in a hospital and recuperating may also be recoverable. Benefits typically include a wage-replacement package that comprises a percentage of lost wages and it is based on the victim's average weekly income.

Source:, "Cal OSHA investigating Soberanes Fire injury", Marissa Schwartz, Sept. 20, 2016

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