CARINGBAH builder Chris Cullen is making a tenacious recovery from injuries he received from an 11,000-volt shock while working on a development at South Hurstville.
Mr Cullen, 49, received burns to more than 30 per cent of his body, as well as organ and tissue damage, from contact with high voltage power lines on June 19.
He faces at least another 18 months of intense rehabilitation, but will never be able to resume physical work in the building industry.
Doctors at Royal North Shore Hospital, where his family said he had received "extraordinary treatment", told him he would not have survived had he not been so fit.
The accident occurred while Mr Cullen was installing windows on an upper floor of an apartment building on King Georges Road, near Kings Head Tavern.
He was working on scaffolding at the front of the building, close to the footpath and power lines.
Paramedics treated him at the scene before the Westpac helicopter landed on King Georges Road and flew him to Royal North Shore Hospital, which has a specialist burns unit.
WorkCover NSW is investigating the accident.
Mr Cullen was inserting small, aluminium wedges in gaps between the windows and brickwork when he received the shock.
"I have no idea whether they touched [the power lines] or arced [when electricity jumps across air gaps]," he said.
"I remember waking up for about two minutes while the paramedics were working on me.
"They reckon my body was smoking, and they had to cut my clothes off. The pain was excruciating."
Mr Cullen spent the next 11 weeks in hospital, including 32 days in the intensive care unit, before being moved to the burns unit.
He undergoes demanding rehabilitation two to three times a day, wears a burns suit and, when he goes to bed, dons plastic armour and has to lie with his arms outstretched.
"I am still pretty banged up, but I am alive, and that's the main thing," he said.
HELP THE FAMILY
Friends have rallied behind ‘‘Cully’’ and ‘‘Tez’’.
They have organised a fund-raiser, to be held in the Summertime Bar at the Sharks leagues club on November 1.
Michael Servante, a member of the organising committee, said Mr Cullen had grown up in the shire and had worked for, and supported, many local businesses.
‘‘We probably have enough donated items for the auction, but we can accommodate more guests,’’ he said.
Tickets are $60. Details: 0407689275.
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