After suffering a severe foot injury, Craig Bradbury was airlifted from his remote location and flown to hospital.

On 4th August, I found myself in a bit of a predicament while I was cutting down a tree in my garden; it was the freakiest accident in the world. As the tree leant naturally, this allowed me to angle the final cut in the trunk to ensure that it fell away from me. I thought that I would be safe behind the remaining tree stump, but I was wrong.

To my shock and horror, the tree bounced back off the lawn and hit the top of my foot, sheering two of my toes off in the process. I did not panic as I was not in that much pain, so I put the chainsaw down and started walking towards the house to take a look at my foot. Within 15 metres, a ‘dead leg’ type of pain started to go up my leg; I then sat down and realised that things might be a little different in my life from this point onwards.

In the back of my mind, I knew that I had lost a lot of blood and as we live in a relatively remote location, I realised that this had the potential to get very messy. I have a young son and my mum lives with me, so I tried to keep a very level head, remembering the first aid course that I had done many years ago.

We called 999 for an ambulance and unbeknown to me, ambulance control had also called for the air ambulance. The ambulance crew arrived within a few minutes and administered some pain relief to me very quickly. Approximately 15 minutes later, the crew from Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance arrived and for some reason, I knew at this point that I was going to be ok.

The air ambulance team sorted the required medication very quickly. The morphine that I had already been given was not quite working, so I remember that one of the team administered a stronger painkiller and said: “this will sort it out”, which it did. I had already bandaged my foot tightly to stem the blood loss and the clinical team commented to say that I had done a good job with this. The two crews exchanged notes on my condition and then prepared me for the short flight to Southmead Hospital in Bristol.

On arrival, I was met by a team of doctors. I knew that I was in the best hands, but I also realised that I had done some significant damage. Over the next 24 hours, I had two operations to try and repair my foot, which involved a significant skin graft from my calf and removing a third toe (my little one). I was told that life would be easier without it, which I now understand months later.

I am six months into my year-long recovery plan and I only have nerve damage pain, but I am also receiving physio to compensate for the toe losses and to help me learn how to balance and walk differently. I still do not know if I will be able to run again, but the biggest personal challenge for me, is to play table tennis again. This is a sport that I have enjoyed at league-level for 35 years, so if I can still manage this, I will be very happy indeed. I have been told that I will know what movements and functions I will have in due course, however, all I know is that I will have the best possible chance following the actions of the air ambulance team.

Once I am fit, I want to complete a physical challenge to raise money for Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance. I benefited greatly from their service and without their help, I dread to think what could have happened. The follow up calls made to my wife by the charity’s patient and family liaison nurses, were also very thoughtful and beneficial to my family and friends.

On the day the accident, I was worried about the blood loss and I knew that I was a long way from hospital by road. When I heard that the air ambulance was being deployed, I knew that I would be in safe hands. If you have a significant, life-threatening injury and you are in a remote location like I was, having help from the air ambulance team could be crucial to your outcome. So, if my story can help to raise awareness of this, it has been truly worth it.

One day, once the pandemic is under control, I would love to meet the team that helped me. I will never forget what they did for me and I would like to thank them once again from the bottom of my heart.

VIEW FROM THE CREW: Ian Mew, DSAA Critical Care Doctor
Craig had suffered a significant injury to his foot and required timely plastic surgery intervention. Although on our arrival he did not require a blood transfusion, blood and plasma was available on the aircraft should things change. Craig was supported with strong
analgesics, haemorrhage control assured and he was transferred directly to the plastic surgeons at Southmead Hospital in Bristol.

VIEW FROM THE CREW: Kirsty Caswell, Patient and Family Liaison Nurse
It is always good to support the relatives of patients, but this is especially important during the current times, when visiting is restricted or completely stopped and relatives have to remain at home. Sometimes if a relative was not at the scene of the incident, we can explain the treatment that was given and how decisions were made in those moments, which can often help them to process what
has happened. We are so glad to hear that our follow up calls were helpful for Mrs Bradbury and we wish Craig the very best as he continues to recover.

NEXT: Anne's Story

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