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Many of our patients do not realise that they have been treated by a doctor from a charitable scheme. Some are too unwell and some will assume that we are just part of the NHS ambulance response, or part of an air ambulance team. Unless a patient gets in touch with us after needing our services, we may never find out how they are doing. Sometimes patients do take the time to contact us after an incident and it makes the work all the more worthwhile and can also help others to understand what we do.
As the Lead Nurse at Poole Emergency Department, I am used to being on the receiving end of Trauma patients brought in by Ambulance crews, but never thought I would see the other side. As an experienced motorcyclist, I knew the risk of motorcycling but still had never let it dissuade me from my preferred mode of transport.
I was on my bike travelling from Bristol airport to Dorset in August 2016 after a family holiday. At approximately 1.30 in the morning a heavy fog descended as I was negotiating a particularly tricky section of road. Unfortunately the fog obscured a sudden bend in the road where it crossed a river. I came off onto the verge hitting the low stone wall of the bridge.
It is likely that I lost consciousness, as I awoke partially in a river following a fall of approximately 20 feet. Unfortunately, being the middle of the night in a rural area, it was some time until I was found and even longer for me to be extracted from the river bank. By the time I was brought up to the road I was in severe difficulty and, looking back on it now, was likely very close to suffering a cardiac arrest.
Due to the thick fog the helicopter was not an option, but luckily I was just within the area covered by the team from SAVES. I was attended by Dr James Hickman, who quickly recognised that I was suffering from a tension pneumothorax and decompressed my chest at scene. There is no doubt that this action at scene prevented me going into cardiac arrest, from which I may never have survived and, as a minimum, would have sustained life changing injuries.
Dr Hickman was also able to gain intravenous access and give me powerful painkillers which enabled me to be taken to the nearest major trauma centre, which was approximately 1 hour away, rather than the shorter transfer to the local hospital which would have necessitated further inter-hospital transfers.
The action of Dr Hickman from the SAVES team meant that I was given the immediate life saving treatment I needed and had the best care in the most appropriate setting. The injuries that I suffered included a tension haemopneumothorax, dissected renal artery, 3 fractured ribs, liver laceration and fractured scapula. I am back on my motorbike!