The family lunch was a few minutes from being ready so Bob Walker decided to pop out for some sandpaper from the DIY shop a couple of miles away in Newquay. August 18th 2015 was a beautiful sunny day so he took his motorbike. It was a five minute journey that changed his life.
On a straight stretch of road Bob could see a car facing him waiting to turn right into a layby. The car turned straight across him, hitting him hard.
Bob said, “I came to and found myself lying in blood, surrounded by bike wreckage. I could see that my right leg was in entirely the wrong position, it was close to my shoulder.”
Bob was haemorrhaging and his blood pressure was dangerously low so the response paramedic could not give him morphine for the pain so he was given paracetamol intravenously.
Cornwall Air Ambulance was called and took just five minutes to reach the scene, landing in an adjacent field.
Lead paramedic Steve Garvey said, “Bob’s leg was seriously displaced and he had a catastrophic arterial bleed in the leg. Despite this, he was conscious. We applied a tourniquet to stop the bleeding, packed the wound and applied a combat dressing over this. Using the IV drip we had to balance the need to give a drug that promotes clotting with the need to introduce fluids without dislodging any clots formed.”
Steve is qualified to administer ketamine which was vital in this emergency. It provides strong pain relief, has sedative properties and it disassociates a patient from their condition leaving them potentially to detach themselves from the reality of the situation, experience hallucinations and ultimately feeling more comfortable.
Steve says, “We needed to reposition Bob’s leg which was badly mangled. It was a complex procedure that we managed in stages. We relaxed him with ketamine, moved his leg, administered more ketamine and moved his leg further. We finally succeeded in repositioning Bob’s leg and stabilising him for the flight to Derriford Hospital.”
The paramedics spent over an hour treating Bob on scene and it took just 15 minutes to deliver him to Plymouth.
Steve says, “We knew that Bob was critically ill. We couldn’t predict the outcome for him but we did everything in our power to clinically improve his condition.”
Bob says, “In the helicopter it felt like I died. I can remember my family’s faces circling me in my mind and it made me fight on.”
The impact from the car had shattered Bob’s femur, tibia and fibula. His right leg was amputated above the knee and he was placed in an induced coma. He needed 20 units of blood in the first 24 hours and had two blood transfusions.
Just under a year later, Bob is about to undergo a further operation to his leg. He is very much looking forward to making a speedy recovery and to hopefully be able to ride his trike in the not too distant future.