It was a sunny spring day in March when Alex, 33, went to work on an agricultural fencing job in Dunkerton near Bath. Little did he know that the day was to take an unexpected and life-threatening turn, when at 11.30am, Alex found himself trapped under the tracks of an 8 tonne digger.
With significant injuries to his lower legs, Alex was in desperate need of emergency care fast, and so our Critical Care Team were called to the scene.
Alex recalls: “I remember lying on the ground knowing I had a massive injury and just praying for help soon! The air ambulance flew over just as the first ground crew arrived, the relief was massive because I knew the sound of the helicopter was my best hope!”
Great Western Air Ambulance Charity’s Critical Care Team arrived on scene with Critical Care Doctor Scott, and Specialist Paramedic in Critical Care, James on board. Alex was administered strong pain relief only available from an air ambulance crew and was treated at the scene before being airlifted by the team to Southmead Hospital, the nearest major trauma centre, where he underwent 20 hours of surgery and the biggest skin graft flap they have performed on a leg.
Critical Care Doctor, Scott, who attended to Alex on the day, said:
“We landed up the hill from the valley in which Alex had been injured and arrived just after the first road ambulance. Alex was in significant pain and it was clear he had badly injured his leg. After ensuring there was no risk of the digger moving and harming either Alex or us, we examined him for injuries and then undertook a procedure called conscious sedation to allow us to straighten his injured leg and package it safely for transport to hospital. Given Alex’s location we used the road ambulance to drive to the helicopter before flying him to Southmead, the local Major Trauma Centre for ongoing treatment.
“It is always great to hear from our patients as it is sometimes difficult to follow them up. We’re delighted that Alex is on the road to recovery and that our treatment helped save his leg.”
Alex was told he may lose his lower right leg, however just nine weeks on he is back home with his wife and three kids. With the assistance of crutches, Alex has been able to start walking again and is making incredible progress on what will be a long road to recovery.
Alex said: “Saying thank you will simply never be enough as without any question whatsoever, if I hadn’t had the time saving flight then my blood flow wouldn’t have been restored in time.
“I think every aspect of the NHS is incredible in these unthinkable circumstances, and my care all the way through has been above and beyond, but I think it is especially important to thank the GWAAC air ambulance crew – although you may say ‘it’s just our job and we like helping others’, it takes a special kind of person to give up all the extra time an air ambulance requires!”
Great Western Air Ambulance Charity are called to the most critically ill and injured patients across the region, attending an average of over 5 incidents a day, yet we receive no day-to-day government funding and rely solely on the generous donations and support of the local community to keep us flying.
Alex and his family are now hoping to do something to raise funds for the charity once he is back to good health, he continued: “I honestly can’t stress how important it is to donate. Life is so unpredictable, and therefore it is essential to keep the air ambulance flying as this proves it is impossible to predict where and when it may be needed!”