Why we fly
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.
Within an hour of being knocked unconscious, fracturing his left femur, both wrists and his jaw in a road traffic collision, 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,” he says.
Dafydd (22) 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 says.
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.
He was unable to work for over a year but thankfully now – 29 months after the accident (May 2020) – he has a job as a toolmaker and is driving a car.
Dafydd has made such a full recovery he has been able to undertake 25 skydives since August 2019.
“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. If I go in a helicopter again I intend to jump out of it and not be a patient,” he quips.