When farmer Jim Chapman was lying on the ground in agony having had his arm ripped off in an agricultural accident the sound of the local air ambulance flying to his rescue was, he says, “very reassuring”.
“The sound of the helicopter was the best sound I have ever heard in my life. I knew that help was on the way and the situation I found myself in was going to be sorted out. I was immediately put at ease by the kindness of the crew and the care I got was fantastic,” he says.
After being made comfortable, Jim was flown to Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham in ten minutes and on arrival was taken straight into the operating theatre.
Unfortunately the surgeons couldn’t save his arm and Jim had to come to terms with facing the rest of his life with a prosthetic limb.
The accident in 2005 proved to be life changing in more ways than one for Jim (36) who went on to become an ambassador for the Farm Safety Foundation, National Chairman of the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs and was awarded the MBE for services to farm safety in 2012.
Nowadays alongside running a farm in Long Itchington, Warwickshire, Jim gives safety talks to the farming community around the UK.
“I relive my accident and the part the air ambulance played in it about ten times a year. I still vividly remember the noise of the helicopter when it came in to land and even now when it flies over I am immediately taken back to that day,” he says.
Jim was only 23 years old when the accident happened on a farm at Brinklow Quarry near Rugby.
He was asked to empty water from underground storage tanks using a tractor and vacuum tanker. When no water was being sucked up he left the tractor engine running, got down from the cab and went to check the machinery.
The fluorescent safety vest he was wearing got caught and in a split second it was wrapped around a rotating shaft.
“I was flung from where I had been standing right over the top of the tractor. The shaft had ripped my shirt, jumper and my left arm completely off. I lay with my eyes closed and I knew I had lost my arm. I began to scream,” recalls Jim.
Talking about his accident is a powerful way of conveying the importance of farm safety and Jim doesn’t shy away from describing the experience in graphic detail.
He is also very keen to promote the vital part the air ambulance played in rescuing him and the speed at which the helicopter got him to the lifesaving medical treatment he needed.
Over the years Jim has helped raise thousands of pounds for the local air ambulance and he promotes the charity whenever he can.
“Members of the farming community are very aware that if they ever need it the air ambulance is available to help them and they are passionate supporters of the charity. It saves lives and it is vital that we do everything we can to keep it operational,” he says.