Training offers amputee new career trajectory
Recent High Velocity Equipment Training grad Wanda McCann, centre, accepts congratulations from Linda Norman and Chaney Bonnough. McCann started at the heavy equipment training school last June after she recovered from a leg amputation. (Supplied)
When a simple ingrown toenail transformed into unchecked gangrene, Wanda McCann had to have her leg amputated. She tried returning to her job as a second cook in a pipeline camp at Mariana Lake, but keeping up was a challenge, and she found a new career path through High Velocity Equipment Training.
“I’ve always been interested in heavy duty equipment,” said McCann who said that having the chance to use the equipment, as well as the instructors, were highlights of the program.
Since starting training in June 2015, McCann has earned her qualifications for the dozer, front-end loader, the rock truck and grader. While she did try the excavator, McCann found that her prosthetic made it difficult to get on and off the track and was wary of hurting herself again.
Finally getting to High Velocity was not an easy road for McCann, who went through six months of physiotherapy three times a day to get back on her feet, learning how to use a prosthetic, which she said was “painful. It was a lot of trauma.”
The Worker’s Compensation Board offered her the chance to retrain, and McCann made her way to the High Velocity classroom.
“There were challenges but I figured once I got the machinery, I could sit and just do the job because I can’t just go, go, go anymore.”
Once she had the chance to try her hand at the equipment and started learning, McCann said being able to do a job again gave her a sense of accomplishment and confidence that she hadn’t had since losing her leg.
“It took awhile to get that back. But I got back on my feet. I lost everything when I lost my leg. I’m regaining now again. (The program) inspired me a lot.”
Originally from Edmonton, McCann said she would like to stay in Alberta to find work so she can get her seating time and eventually head out west to British Columbia.
“I enjoyed the whole course. The people here are terrific. They’re all here for you.,” she said. “It was tough some days but you have to keep hammering at it.