Student flown by vital air ambulance after motocross incident
Student Matthew Rea was a week away from taking his GCSEs when he came off his motorbike – in May 2022 – during practice at the Moto101 motocross track in Grantham and was rushed by air ambulance to the Queen’s Medical Centre (QMC) in Nottingham with a fractured left wrist and femur.
Matthew (16) says: “I came out of a corner, and the way my suspension reacted to the bumps caused me to twist my throttle. I was going flat out. I remember blacking out and thinking, ‘this isn’t going to be good’. I was vertical in the air with the bike. The next thing I remember was being on the floor with two people running towards me.”
The motocross track’s onsite medics arrived and gave Matthew some gas for the pain. They told him they thought he’d broken his wrist and he had probably his leg, but his injuries didn’t hurt until they put him on a backboard and into a car to take him to the hospital.
Matthew was grateful that the Derbyshire, Leicestershire & Rutland Air Ambulance (DLRAA) crew arrived five minutes later and saved a painful trip by road. They sedated him with ketamine to allow a traction splint to be applied. As a result, he doesn’t remember much of the trip apart from asking the crew if he could nap. He says: “I kept looking out the window, and they kept having to put my head down. It was the first time I’d ever been in a helicopter.”
The air ambulance crew took Matthew to QMC, where his parents arrived 45 minutes later. The Imaging department X-rayed his injuries several times, and the hospital straightened his wrist, which was the most painful experience he’d had up to that point.
Medics put Matthew’s left leg in traction and his wrist in plaster. Then, two days later, he had a rod fitted in the femur and two days after that, the hospital realised he had broken his ankle, too.
Matthew says: “It wasn’t causing me pain. I was putting weight on it, and it felt fine, but they noticed it was swollen. I’d broken the navicular bone in my right foot. I had two screws put in, and two K-wires were taken out in July.”
After spending two to three weeks in QMC, Matthew was transferred to the Doncaster Royal Infirmary for five days and then sent home. Now he is having physiotherapy and waiting for his leg to heal. His ankle is still painful when he walks, but his wrist doesn’t bother him anymore. The school postponed his GCSEs until January 2023, but as he could only get around in a wheelchair, he’s had more time to revise.
Matthew hopes to return to motocross as soon as he can. “I love the thrill of it,” he says. “I got my first bike in 2020, a 125 pit bike, then the year after, I got a 250, and a few months later, I got my current bike, a Honda CRF 250R. It’s been race-tuned. I’ve wanted a motorbike since I was little. Before I got one, I’d ride my mountain bike and make motorbike noises!”
The Derbyshire, Leicestershire & Rutland Air Ambulance is celebrating 15 years of providing pre-hospital critical care 24/7, 365 days per year at incidents like Matthews’. It can be tasked to incidents outside its counties should the local air ambulance already be out undertaking a vital mission, or should it be closest to the incident.
“If the air ambulance hadn’t been there, it would have been a slow dismal trip to Nottingham. The crew’s skills were amazing. The experience made us want to donate to the charity, and my father wants to set up a direct debit,” says Matthew.
Clinical Liaison Officer for DLRAA, Justine Alexander said: “As the charity’s Clinical Liaison Officer, it’s my role to act as a contact for patients and families following care provided by our service; bridging the gap between on-scene care and aftercare.
“It was great to have Matthew and his family come forward to speak to us and visit the base, and it’s lovely to see Matthew out and about after the incident, and I’m sure he will do well in his GCSEs and be back on his bike in no time.”