Northamptonshire patient reflects on crucial air ambulance flight this Road Safety Week
Road Safety Week (19 -25 November) plays a crucial role in educating communities and advocating for safer road practices.
Road traffic collisions have been one of the most common type of incidents the Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance (WNAA) has attended over the years, with the lifesaving service’s critical care crew being tasked to over 390 road traffic collisions this year alone.
With its rapid response by helicopter or critical care car, WNAA’s crew can be on the ground delivering pre-hospital emergency care at road traffic collisions, giving patients the very best chance of survival and live their lives to the fullest, patients like Dafydd.
Within an hour of being knocked unconscious, fracturing his left femur, both wrists and his jaw in a road traffic collision on 21 November 2017, Dafydd Lee, from Northampton, was being treated for his injuries at a major trauma hospital.
Just 17 minutes after getting a call out, WNAA arrived at the scene of the accident on the A5 near the Milton Keynes Bowl concert arena. The helicopter then flew Dafydd to University Hospital Coventry & Warwickshire – 50 miles away – in 19 minutes.
“Getting to the hospital by road via the M1 and M6 would have taken a lot longer, even in an ambulance with sirens and blue lights. It’s amazing that within an hour of being injured I was in the A&E department being cared for by specialists. Thanks to the helicopter I couldn’t have got the urgent treatment I needed any quicker,” says Dafydd.
Dafydd was travelling home on his motorcycle when he was involved in a collision with a car that did a U-turn at traffic lights.
He was knocked off his bike and the next thing he remembers is waking up in hospital.
“If I wasn’t wearing such a good helmet at the time, I would probably be dead,” he adds.
When the air ambulance arrived, a land ambulance was already at the scene. Dafydd was being given oxygen to help his breathing and he had been placed on a stretcher.
The air ambulance’s critical care crew gave him pain relief drugs and medication to assist the clotting process to control blood loss, before loading him onto the helicopter. On arrival at the hospital, they did a handover to a full trauma team in the A&E department.
Travelling by helicopter meant that Dafydd was able to get the care he needed sooner than had he been transported to hospital by road. This ultimately improved his outcome and avoided him having to endure, what can often be, a much more uncomfortable journey.
Dafydd spent a month in hospital and during that time he had two operations to put a rod in his leg and plates in his wrists and jaw to mend the fractured bones.
He underwent intensive physiotherapy and attended a special clinic to deal with the effects of his head injury, which included memory loss, not being able to read and difficulty retaining information.
Since his incident, Dafydd (26) has not only gone on to make a full recovery but has thrown himself into life.
“I’m doing very well; I work full time as an engineer and have a little dog that I look after. Since my accident, I’ve enjoyed travelling and have been to France, Belgium, Czech Republic, Spain and Indonesia and I learnt to skydive in August 2020 and regularly do it for fun – I now have 140 jumps,” says Dafydd.
Dafydd also enjoys mountain biking and tinkering on projects in his home workshop, and volunteers for the Charity Remap as an engineer, making aids for people living with disabilities, to help make their lives better.
“You never think you will need to be flown in an air ambulance but, as it turns out, I did. What they do is incredible, and I am very grateful to them for getting me to hospital so quickly.
“I’m grateful to be alive and see my brother get married, and grateful to enjoy things like skydiving, which wasn’t thought possible. I’m lucky to be able to work and have such a wonderful girlfriend, I owe my life and the little things that make us all happy to WNAA,” he adds.