Why we fly
I am very grateful for what the air ambulance crew did for me. I believe it’s the reason I am here today. I feel they saved my life. If it wasn’t for them and the lady who gave me first aid before the helicopter arrived, I don’t think I would be here today.
Experienced motorcyclist Howard Singer says he is “lucky to be alive” after being seriously injured when his motorbike collided with a tractor. The force of the impact caused his helmet to come off and he was launched upwards and 20 feet forward.
“I am very grateful for what the air ambulance crew did for me. I believe it’s the reason I am here today. I feel they saved my life. If it wasn’t for them and the lady who gave me first aid before the helicopter arrived, I don’t think I would be here today,” he says.
Howard (68) is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists and has completed advanced motorcycle training provided by Leicestershire police. He has ridden motorbikes as a hobby since he was 17 years old. He was on his own when the accident happened in June 2019 in the Leicestershire village of Gaddesby – about four miles from his home in Twyford.
Howard was behind slow-moving traffic going through the village where there were parked cars at the side of the road due to an event being held at the local school. On leaving the village on a straight road with good visibility he had committed to overtaking the slow-moving traffic when a tractor suddenly turned right, across the front of him.
“I had no time to stop and drove head on into the side of it. The Police described it as ‘a series of coincidences that collided to create an accident’,” he says.
The driver of one of the cars was an Armed Forces trained First Aider, she put Howard into the recovery position and kept him awake until the emergency services arrived.
Howard had sustained multiple injuries which included: facial lacerations/friction burns to both sides of his forehead; cerebral haemorrhage/hematoma; a fractured skull; fractured vertebrae; a dislocated left hip and fractured hip socket; multiple breaks of eight ribs; a collapsed lung; lacerated spleen and bruised aorta – and has no memory of events from a few minutes before the accident until about a week later.
He was still lying in the road when the Derbyshire, Leicestershire & Rutland Air Ambulance critical care crew – the first medical resource at the scene – arrived after landing the helicopter in a nearby field.
He was given pain relief and oxygen to help his breathing and a special binder was applied to his pelvis to help support his injuries and potentially reduce internal blood loss.
It was decided to take Howard to the Major Trauma Centre at Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham by land ambulance so that if his chest injury caused him to become more unstable and deteriorate further, he could be anesthetised – a procedure that cannot be safely conducted in flight in the rear of the helicopter.
The air ambulance critical care team accompanied him in the land ambulance and did a clinical handover to the trauma team at Nottingham on arrival.
Howard’s facial lacerations were stitched, and he was taken to the operating theatre to have his hip relocated. After 10 days in traction, he underwent more surgery to have his hip socket repaired.
Following two and a half weeks in hospital he was allowed home and was finally discharged by doctors after four months.
Howard was able to go back to his job as an engineer’s pattern maker on a phased return in November 2019 and had just got back to full-time hours when Covid-19 struck. He was furloughed and then retired in August 2020.
Following the compulsory suspension of his driving licence due to the brain injury sustained, he was back on a motorbike as soon as the DVLA allowed and since March 2020 has ridden nearly 4,000 miles. Cycling 7 to 10 miles four times a week and a lot of walking during lockdown have aided his recovery.
“I don’t think I am 100 per cent recovered but I am just so glad I am still alive and doing what I can do,” he says.
Howard and his wife Sue‘s son, Robert – convinced that his father’s life was saved by the treatment he received from the local air ambulance – decided to organise a fundraising event and with the help and support of friends and family raised £4,000 for the charity to say thank you. The event, held at The Saddle Inn, Twyford included live music and an auction.
“People enjoyed it so much they still talk about I the event today. We may well do another in the future to raise some more funds for the charity. People in rural communities like ours really understand the importance of the local air ambulance and I am a living example of the difference it can make when it attends an incident,” he says.
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