Former patient now fitter than ever four years after air ambulance flew to his aid
Four years ago, on 12 March 2017, Richard Kershaw from West Bridgford was a patient on Derbyshire, Leicestershire & Rutland Air Ambulance when he nearly died after being knocked off his bike during a ride with his local cycling club.
He is now fitter than ever, cycles 100 miles a week, and has recently joined a virtual racing league on Zwift with his cycle club ØVB.
“No one would have even dreamt this was possible on the day I was airlifted to hospital,” he says.
Richard was one of four cyclists who were hit by an oncoming car when it drifted across the road on the outskirts of Eastwell in Leicestershire.
“There is absolutely no doubt that the helicopter critical care crew saved my life. I had multiple injuries including a broken back in eight places, two punctured lungs, and a serious head injury which was rated 3 on the Glasgow Coma Scale. If I hadn’t been treated at the scene or got to hospital so quickly, I would not have survived. I needed 12 pints of blood to keep me alive,” he says.
Father-of-two, Richard has no memory of his accident or the four and a half weeks he was in the intensive care unit at the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham – where the air ambulance flew him to in just eight minutes.
He spent just under seven weeks in hospital and had nine operations. It was then 14 months before he returned to his job as a Flood Risk Engineer.
But Richard was determined to get back on his bike as soon as possible after the accident and progressed from a static Wattbike to riding at the velodrome in Derby to getting out on roads again by May 2018.
This is despite having to wear a specially designed brace on his right arm – the nerves of which were disconnected from his spine in the collision – to hold the handlebars steady.
He has achieved many cycling highlights since his accident, including taking part in a 24-hour indoor charity cycling event with a team of NHS doctors, riding to the summit of Mt Ventoux in southern France, and organising a sponsored cycle ride for the local air ambulance.
“So many people had a role in my survival and recovery, from Sally the trained nurse who just happened to be in the same cycling group as me that day, to those involved in my emergency surgeries, through to physios I still see weekly. Their input gave me the opportunity to return to cycling. However, the local air ambulance played such a pivotal link in that chain. I’ve visited doctors at the air ambulance and hospital staff who cared for me and many say my injuries were so bad it is unlikely I’d have survived without being airlifted.”
The charity needs the public’s support now more than ever as it recently launched two brand-new state-of-the-art replacement aircraft to continue getting its crew to the scene of an incident as quickly as possible in order to deliver the highest quality of critical care to patients like Richard.