Rousselle’s road to recovery

Local man's journey back after workplace accident inspires WorkSafe video.

Mike Rousselle and wife Brett pose with children Boston and Jonas (left). Rousselle lost his left arm and right leg after being electrocuted on the job as a power contractor in 2009.

Mike Rousselle and wife Brett pose with children Boston and Jonas (left). Rousselle lost his left arm and right leg after being electrocuted on the job as a power contractor in 2009.

Since losing his left hand and right leg almost four years ago, Mike Rousselle has battled back along a remarkable road to recovery.

Since that time,  the Cranbrook resident has returned to his job, and has been featured in “Return to Work: The Mike Rousselle Story,” a WorkSafeBC short that can be viewed on YouTube.

Rousselle will also be doing presentations for WorkSafeBC.

On Nov. 26, 2009, while working on a transformer on a power pole in the Hartley Lake area near Fernie, Rousselle came into contact with a loose live wire above him.

Rousselle said he doesn’t remember most of the week surrounding the electrocution.

“The pole had a really sloppy jumper wire that goes across,” he said. “When I went up there I either made contact or it came down and contacted me.”

The other worker had his back to him. Rousselle was electrocuted. He was brought to the Fernie Hospital then airlifted to Calgary.

“I spent a few nights there,” he said. “They amputated my arm that night and a week later, after about seven surgeries, they amputated my leg above the knee.“

He was released from the hospital after two months, but stayed another month for rehab then went to Vancouver to continue rehab. After a year there he was having problems with his right limb and had to go back for another surgery. About six months after that he was back working, at first doing scheduling, then working his way to becoming foreman for the company, Arctic Arrow Power Contracting, formerly Arrow Installations.

His wife Brett supported him through the difficult time.

“She has been amazing, she kind of knows when to push me and when I need a break,” he said. “When I was in rehab I wasn’t doing too many activities.”

Brett suggested that he start swimming.

“She pushed me long enough and finally I ended up swimming laps and turned out I was a pretty descent swimmer with only one arm and one leg,” he said.

They have three kids: Boston, 11 months old, Jonas, four years old and Montana, nine years old.

“She looks after them and me at the same time, so it’s pretty amazing,” he said.

Rousselle said he has even gone back in the bucket a couple times to do the odd small job, and because he has no memory of the incident, he doesn’t feel a fear of being in the same circumstances.

“I’m lucky that way,” he said.

He just got a new prosthetic leg this summer. The new model is enhanced by a computer chip that monitors stability through five sensors.

The model was covered by WorkSafe since Rousselle is at work and also in the field.

“Because we’re contractors, we do a lot of the rural area jobs and I’m out on uneven ground or hills,” he said. “So I was pretty fortunate WorkSafe supplied it for me because of the work I do.”

He said that’s one of the big reasons the special prosthetic was covered since he is missing his left arm. He said the prosthetic leg is quite an expensive one.

Rousselle can also use a snowmobile. At first he found it to be too much work, but WorkSafe modified it with a special brake. His prosthetic arm clips in to the handlebars as well for steering.

“The same setup I have for the snowmobile, I have for my mountain bike,” he said . He has another prosthetic leg that allows him to do water sports like wake-boarding.

“Return to Work: The Mike Rousselle Story,” a WorkSafeBC video  can be viewed at youtu.be/VgSqRq5z2Ls