Hi, I’m Becky and I’m one of the PR and Digital Communications Coordinators at Great Western Air Ambulance Charity. I have been working at GWAAC for two years now and as part of my role, I am lucky enough to meet some of the people that our Critical Care Team have saved.
I have met many inspiring former patients who each have a different story to tell. However, with each person one thing that remains the same is that they never expected, in a million years, that they would be needing an air ambulance. The sad fact is that our Critical Care Team attend on average over 5 people every day – some days many more. On 22nd June 2019, Martin Howe was one of these.
Back in October, I had the privilege of welcoming Martin Howe and his wife Rossi to GWAAC’s air base to meet Specialist Paramedic in Critical Care, Vicki Brown. In June, Vicki was called to Martin’s accident alongside Critical Care Doctor, Matt Creed.
It is always such a rewarding experience for everyone involved whenever former patients meet our crew. It means that both the crew and the patient can create warmer memories of each other and get a better understanding of what happened on that day. It isn’t often that we get to hear back from people we have attended, when people do get in touch, it’s always great to hear how they are recovering. Thankfully some of these amazing people, like Martin, let us share their stories.
When Martin set off on one of his regular cycling routes, he never expected that he would need assistance from GWAAC. He was out on his time-trial bike on a training session, when he rounded a corner and collided with a tractor.
Martin says: ‘’I have no recollection of seeing the tractor and trailer that were coming towards me, just a snapshot recall of braking hard and the rear wheel fishtailing towards the centre of the road. I hit the trailer with quite some force, knocking me unconscious and causing some serious damage to my right upper body. It turned out I had broken my collar bone, shoulder blade, 11 out of 12 ribs – 3 with flail fractures that also punctured my lung. Plus, I had broken bones in my right wrist and hand and, bizarrely, in my left foot. The trailer ran over my bike but fortunately not me. I was in a pretty bad way and came to lying on my left side with an old lady and gentlemen telling me that the police were there and the ambulance was on its way. Shortly afterwards, my wife arrived on the scene and not long after, I became aware that the Air Ambulance had also arrived.’’
Due to Martin’s extensive injuries our Critical Care Team had been called to the scene. Unlike road ambulance crews, our team consists of a Specialist Paramedic in Critical Care and a Critical Care Doctor who specialise in Pre-Hospital Emergency Medicine, plus a highly trained and experienced Pilot. Their skills and experience means that when a patient is seriously ill or injured our team can bring the emergency department to the patient, wherever they are.
In Martin’s case this meant that we were able to give him stronger medication than found on an ambulance, to relieve him of the severe pain he was in. Once assessed, stabilised and treated, GWAAC flew Martin to the Major Trauma Centre at Southmead Hospital in Bristol.
Martin recalls: ‘’I just remember how brilliant the GWAAC team of Vicki and Matt were. I was fully conscious at the time the Air Ambulance team arrived and was very appreciative of their expertise and calmness. After being given a shot of Ketamine on the flight, I was free of most of the sensations of pain (apart from when I was rolled from the stretcher onto a trolley and later from the trolley onto a mobile bed) but conscious enough to appreciate the first class care I was receiving.’’
Five months after his accident, we were so pleased to see Martin back on his feet and doing so well.
Martin continues: ‘’ I am feeling much, much, better. I still have some nerve damage to my right arm meaning I cannot activate the Deltoid muscle at the top of the arm. However, having had surgery both to re-set my collar bone and establish a new nerve connection between a branch of my Triceps to my Deltoid muscles, I am hopeful of a full recovery of my Deltoid function. Also, in the last week, I have been able to get back on my road bike, which has been a massive psychological boost, albeit my right arm and back muscles are working overtime to compensate for my non-functioning Deltoid muscles! All in all, I have been very lucky not to have been killed or confined to a wheelchair and I am very grateful for that and for the fantastic medical support I have received, from crash to recovery.’’
A common misconception is that this award winning service from GWAAC is publicly funded. In fact, it is a charity. This means GWAAC receives no day-to-day funding from the Government or National Lottery and needs to raise £4 million each year.
Without the ongoing support from the public we would not be able to be there for people like Martin. However and whatever you can give, please help us continue to be there for people in your community.
Find out how you can help.