Twenty years ago, a motorcyclist on his way to work became the first person to be airlifted by Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance...

The incident

Kenn Duffield left for work as usual on his motorbike, travelling from Dorchester up to Blandford. The next thing he knew, he was waking up in hospital. A car had pulled out onto the road in front of Kenn and he collided with it as it joined the carriageway. He was thrown over the top of the car and landed some 26 metres down the road.

At 8.52am, we were tasked to Kenn’s incident, 52 minutes after coming online. The crew arrived at the scene, resuscitated him at the side of the road before airlifting him to Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester. There, he was given three full-body blood transfusions; with such significant blood loss, it is unlikely that he would have survived the trip to hospital if he had travelled by road.

Kenn's injuries

The crash also left Kenn with a number of serious injuries; a broken hip, broken femur and broken knee. His wife Kirstin was eight months pregnant at the time of the crash and they already had a two-year-old son, Alexander. Those around her tried to protect her as much as possible from the stress of the incident, however it was difficult at the time, as they were not sure if Kenn would possibly lose his leg. Two weeks after being admitted, they managed to persuade the hospital to put them in the same room when Kirstin gave birth to their daughter Becca.

I was badly battered, although thankfully all my biking gear had protected what it needed to. A policeman who was at the scene, told me after the incident that he automatically assumed I was dead. I was in Dorset County Hospital for six weeks and had several  operations to put my leg back together. Unfortunately, a little while after being discharged (with my limb saved), my leg re-broke when the metal plate holding it together broke. I ended up back in hospital for a further month.

The recovery

After spending two years on crutches, Kenn then had to wear an Ilizarov fixator frame for 10 months. The frame is an external orthapedic piece of apparatus that helps broken bones heal and this eventually managed to help knit his bones back together. Kenn has had a total of 14 operations since the incident and his road to recovery has been long and often challenging. He was assessed for post-traumatic stress disorder, however this was ruled out due to him having no memory of the crash. He takes medication and at times has struggled with his mental health. Not surprisingly, Kenn is an avid supporter and fundraiser for the charity – as is his daughter Becca, who is now 19. He often works by our side and shares the details of his incident, while encouraging other patients to share their own stories in a bid to raise the profile of the charity.

The fact that DSAA now has two patient and family liaison nurses is brilliant. This support would have really helped me. Twenty years ago it was just a case of operating on you, getting you healthy and then letting you get on with it. The children have grown up knowing what happened to me and the importance of this amazing service. So many people, including me, are here because of them and the work they do. My family and I are firm believers that if it were not for Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance, I would have died; they saved my life, for sure.

NEXT: David's Story

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