Joiner knocked unconscious after falling onto concrete praises air ambulance for on-scene critical care
Being treated by the local air ambulance critical care team, at the scene of his accident, when he fell off a roof has proved crucial for Shane Clark’s long-term recovery.
The multiple injuries he sustained included a fractured skull, c-spine, and shoulder; a collapsed lung; broken wrist and multiple ribs, and a compound fracture to the middle of his lumbar spine.
The most worrying was the head injury as Shane (36) – a self-employed joiner – had fallen three metres onto concrete when one of the roof joists failed. He was knocked unconscious and still has no memory of what happened.
The duty crew at the Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance (DLRAA) was despatched to attend the accident in West Bridgford at the same time as the East Midlands Ambulance Service.
The charity’s critical care car was on duty – not the helicopter – so in under two minutes of receiving the call, the critical care doctor and paramedics were on their way to the scene.
When they arrived, Shane was already receiving treatment, had been stabilised and given oxygen by the land ambulance crew. A cannula had already been inserted into a vein ready for intravenous drugs to be administered to him if required.
The severity of his injuries clearly indicated that Shane would have to be anaesthetised by the air ambulance crew and then intubated so his oxygen levels and blood pressure could be managed – thus reducing the risk of a secondary brain injury.
This procedure needs to be done as quickly as possible and is normally carried out in hospitals so bringing the critical care to the scene of the accident made a huge difference to Shane’s outcome.
When his condition had been stabilised, Shane was taken to the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham by land ambulance with the air ambulance crew accompanying him to monitor him during the journey and optimise his care.
Shane spent a total of five months being treated and recovering in hospital after the accident, which happened in June 2019. He is still off work now (December 2020).
“Before the accident, I was physically very strong, which I believe helped my recovery. I am not sure if I will be able to work as a joiner again due to loss of movement in my shoulder. I also have issues with memory and concentration,” he says.
Shane’s wife Ellen visited him in hospital every day and the couple’s five children, aged 5 to 13, were looked after by relatives during that time.
“I was originally told that Shane wouldn’t survive surgery or the 24 hours after the accident – but thankfully he did.”
“From my point of view, I believe, without a doubt, that the air ambulance crew saved his life. Shane needed critical care at the scene, and I feel if it wasn’t for the air ambulance crew coming out to him, he wouldn’t be alive today.”
Six months after the accident Shane and his family went to the DLRAA base at East Midlands Airport to meet the air ambulance doctor who treated him.
“I am truly grateful that I received treatment and care at the scene by the critical care team on the day of my accident. Like Ellen, I believe that they saved my life on the day and also gave me the best chance possible in my long term recovery too, getting me back to my family who missed me so much. Being invited to meet the team that looked after me that day was something I will never forget. I will always be thankful to everyone who gave me the best possible chance at a good future.”
Vital missions like Shane’s wouldn’t be possible without public support, the DLRAA will continue to attend lifesaving missions over the Christmas period, including Christmas Day, providing constant support to the NHS.