Patrick Grant sustained life-changing injuries when a concrete wall collapsed on top of him. A number of different rescue services collaborated to extract Patrick and get him to hospital.

Patrick is a steel fixer by trade and has been for the past 50 years. On 19th August last year, while working approximately four metres below ground on the construction of a new swimming pool, a concrete block retaining wall collapsed on him causing significant and life-changing injuries.

Patrick's incident

"There were three of us working on the lower level of the site that day. I had started fixing steel rods when, without warning, the concrete block wall collapsed on top of me, trapping me underneath.

"The thing I vaguely remember was severe pain in my pelvis and hip. I was screaming with pain and felt a very warm sensation in my lower area, not knowing what it was. My two work colleagues leapt to help, lifting the concrete block off me, holding my hand, keeping me still and talking to me to keep me awake.

"A neighbour who happened to be a doctor heard the crash and shouting. He came to see what was happening and immediately took control. He told the staff to call for all the emergency services and climbed down the ladder to assess the situation and help."

Filling in the gaps in Patrick's memory

"Apart from that I remember very little, just waking up in hospital. However, Jo Petheram, one of the air ambulance patient and family liaison nurses has since helped to fill in the gaps.

Patrick being hoisted by fire service in a cage

"My incident needed a multi-agency response and was attended by a BASICS doctor, the Ambulance Service, Police, Poole Fire Service Technical Rescue Team and Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance.

"Everyone worked together to form a plan to get me back up to ground level using a stretcher, ladders, a hoist and a cage. One of the crew from the Fire Service was in the cage with me and it took two lift operations to get me out.

"After being treated at the scene, I was transferred to an ambulance and driven to Sandbanks car park, where the air ambulance helicopter was located. I was then airlifted to Southampton Hospital, where the Trauma Team were waiting for me.

"I immediately had scans and x-rays, which found that I had four breaks in my pelvic bone, chipped a bone in my lower back and had crushed my bladder and urethra. A scrape to the side of my head was caused by my head hitting one of the starter bars which protruded out of the concrete slab. A couple of millimetres difference and it could have resulted in death."

The start of Patrick's recovery

"On Saturday morning (the day after my incident), I was totally confused and still did not recall what had happened. I was in a lot of pain, similarly on the Sunday. On Monday, after seeing the consultant, I was told I needed an operation, however, ten days later I was told this was too risky and could not go ahead.

"Apparently pins would need to be inserted to hold the bones together, but the breaks were too near the nerves close to my coccyx.

"On 5th September I found out that I had blood clots in both my legs and had developed pneumonia. On the 12th I was suffering from hallucinations and flashbacks, very depressed and disorientated; it felt like I was not going to make it. On the 18th I moved to the Trauma Unit at Poole Hospital and the staff began getting me moving, albeit slowly. On 22nd September I returned home, where my family and dog Roxy were so happy to see me.

"As I write this, I am still in a lot of pain but able to walk short distances very slowly with the aid of a zimmer frame and crutches. I was so lucky to have been cared for by so many different people and services who do such an outstanding job in helping to save lives. They are a credit to themselves and the uniform they wear.”

Patrick's wife, Sue, kindly shares her side of the story

Patrick’s wife, Sue, found out about the incident after receiving a call from one of his work colleagues.

When I found out, my mind went into overdrive. I rushed to the building site and when I got there Patrick was already in the ambulance. I was crying and asked if I could see him and was allowed in the ambulance for a very short time. I managed to wake Patrick and told him I was there. He looked at me and said he loved me and for me to tell the boys how he loved them as well.
This was the worst day of my life. I did not know how this would go and prayed that he would survive, but I had to stay strong for him and the boys.
Since then, Patrick has suffered lots of ups and downs with different infections and still cannot walk without aids or a wheelchair. He suffers with PTSD and still has flashbacks and nightmares. I just want to thank everyone who played a part in saving Patrick’s life and has helped during his slow recovery. Our lives changed in a blink of an eye, but I thank God he is alive.

VIEW FROM THE CREW: Jo Petheram, Patient and Family Liaison Nurse

When our critical care team arrived at Patrick’s incident, he’d already been given pain relief. Two further cannulas were inserted and a binder was placed around his pelvis as it was very obviously the point that had been crushed. He was given tranexamic acid as he had obvious external bleeding and this helps the blood to clot.

Further pain relief was administered with Fentanyl and Ketamine. An arterial line was fitted so that the crew could closely monitor his blood pressure. When Patrick’s blood pressure dropped, he was given two units of fresh frozen plasma; one of the blood products carried by our air ambulance team. Patrick was airlifted to Southampton Hospital where he was diagnosed with multiple pelvic fractures and bladder and urethral injuries.

I first made contact with Sue a week after the incident and went to visit Patrick while he was in Southampton Hospital. He was really tearful when we met, mainly because he was so grateful for the help that the air ambulance had given him that day. His memory was really patchy and everything was a bit of a muddle, so I took out my laptop and we went through the scene together and talked about the different medication he received. We also discussed the amount of people that were there to help on the day and he seemed quite overwhelmed about the massive effort that went into saving his life. We spent time talking about the psychological impact on his work colleagues due to what they had seen, knowing Patrick was trapped and feeling helpless at the time.

I met up with Sue after Patrick moved to Poole Hospital. She also wanted to go through the incident scene, understand the timeline of events and the treatment he was given. I provided some emotional support while signposting her to any help regarding disability.

The next time we all met was at their home. One of Patrick’s colleagues was there, as were two of their children. That gave an opportunity to provide reassurance and say what an amazing job Patrick’s colleagues had done for keeping him so calm. They couldn’t have done any more. In July, I facilitated an airbase visit for Patrick, Sue and ten of their family members.

Patrick Grant with family and Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance Crew MembersPatrick grant after incident in wheelchair

This story shines a light on multi-agency teamwork and relationships and it was lovely that so many of those involved with helping Patrick were able to attend on the day.

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NEXT: Tamsyn's Story