When Vicki Fuller was hit by a car, DSAA had to act quickly to save her leg…

I am a 46-year-old Mum who works at a local care home. I enjoy helping people and raising money for charity. In April 2016, I took part in the Taunton Half Marathon after training hard for the event. At around 9km, my right knee suddenly started hurting and I couldn’t put any weight on it at all. I had to stop running and was so disappointed; I had worked so hard and failed to achieve my goal.

In May 2016, I started running again but struggled to get in to it and didn’t run as much as I should have, as it was a struggle to get my fitness back. My friend Kate started running and we slowly upped our distance and pace running together. In August 2017, we ran the Battle of Sedgemoor 10k and joined the local beginners’ running group. Just before Christmas, we decided to enter the Bath Half Marathon and we began training with that goal in mind.

At 7.00pm on 29th January 2018, I met up with a group of friends to go on another training run (8km around Langport). It was dark, so we all had high visibility vests and head torches on. At about half way, we came to the end of a lane, we stopped, regrouped and checked everyone was OK. We crossed the road and then began running in single file as we had discussed.

Suddenly a car came zooming towards us, seeming to make no effort to slow down or drive around us. The four girls at the front managed to jump up the verge, but I was too slow and got hit. Luckily Kate (who was behind me) also managed to get out of the way. I remember lying on the verge saying I have broken my leg. One of my friends called an ambulance and Kate called my husband. I was cold, in shock and in a lot of pain. Lots of people appeared and offered help; someone kindly covered me with their coat.

When the ambulance arrived, they could obviously see that I was seriously hurt and I remember them discussing the possibility of having to amputate my leg. It was decided that the air ambulance should be deployed and I was given pain relief and monitored until it arrived. I was placed in the land ambulance, which took me to the air ambulance landing site.

I was on a lot of medication and obviously in shock, everything was very confusing and scary, but I remember the crew being so friendly and calm; they made me feel safe. With their professionalism and hard work, they were able to stabilise the limb and airlift me to Southmead Hospital.

At hospital, I was immediately taken for CT scans and spent the night in Intensive Care, being monitored every 15 minutes. The following morning, I went to theatre to remove any dead flesh and clean up my wounds. I also had my left elbow stitched as it was severely cut open during the incident. I spent another night on the Trauma Ward and then I was back in surgery for most of the next day where a massive L-shaped flap was taken from my back and two big skin grafts from my right thigh. Muscle was also taken from the top of my left leg. The surgeons inserted a metal pin from my knee to my ankle and held it in place with two metal plates. They then used the flap, muscle and skin grafts to basically remake my lower left leg. In total, I was in hospital for three and a half weeks.

It’s now been three and a half months since the incident and I am home and making slow but steady progress. I can walk, albeit ungainly, and I tire very easily. I am working hard with my physio to get my mobility and my life back. I am still unable to work and will most likely have more operations on my leg at some point, but I hope to be able to run again. If it wasn’t for the team at DSAA and ALL the other wonderful people who looked after me on this most unexpected of journeys, I would most likely have lost my leg, or indeed my life.

The air ambulance crew are my true heroes. My friends Kate and Amy were inspired to run the Yeovil Half Marathon in aid of the Charity after my incident and I wanted to share my story with others to show how their work makes such a difference to people’s lives.

A VIEW FROM THE CREW – Claire Baker

Vicki’s incident took place in the hours of darkness. After assessing her, ambulance clinicians at the scene quickly realised that she had a limb-threatening injury, which required urgent specialist treatment. Having a helicopter that has night-flying capabilities meant that we could land less than 100 metres from the incident, using our night vision equipment.

We were able to administer enhanced pain relief and rapidly transfer her to the Specialist Trauma Centre in Bristol in under 15 minutes. We are delighted to hear that Vicki’s recovery is going well and her determination to run again is inspiring!

If you've been inspired by Vicki’s story and would like to help us to continue saving lives, we would be grateful to receive your donation. No matter how big or small, every penny donated really will make a big difference! Thank you.

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