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Cyclist praises WAA for roadside treatment

A cyclist has praised the Wales Air Ambulance crew for their vital treatment at the roadside, after he suffered complex injuries from a road collision.

Richard Forde-Johnston, then aged 49, said that the immediate medical intervention reduced his eventual recovery time.

A former army officer who now runs a sales & marketing consultancy, Richard was following a route through the Vale on Clwyd one Friday afternoon in July 2016.  

He was heading back to his home near Ruabon, to finish packing ready to join his family on holiday in Abersoch the following day.

As he cycled through Ruthin, Richard was in a collision with a motor vehicle.  He suffered impact injuries including a complex fracture of the left femur, three broken ribs and cuts to his left elbow and left ankle.

Witnesses called 999, and both Wales Air Ambulance and a road ambulance were dispatched to the scene. The medics on board the helicopter that day were Dr Kate Stephens and Critical Care Practitioner Kate Owen.

The helicopter landed as close as possible to the collision, then the road ambulance team drove Richard to the aircraft’s landing site.

After the Wales Air Ambulance crew had assessed his condition and treated him, it was decided that Richard would be transferred to hospital via road ambulance.

Richard said: “The flying doctor gave me pain relief which enabled her to put me in traction in the back of the road ambulance.

“As it turned out, the air ambulance got another call out. Because my medical treatment had started at the scene and I had been given pain relief from the doctor, I could be transported by road, meaning the aircraft could attend another emergency.”

The cyclist thinks his speedy recovery was due to the immediate medical care he received at the scene.

“I’ve been told that the fact that the air ambulance flew in a doctor who could start treating me immediately at the scene made a real difference,” Richard said.

“It meant that my seriously damaged leg was placed in a traction straight away, which stopped my leg drastically shortening and reduced my overall recovery time.

“I was taken to Wrexham Maelor Hospital.  I was in for five days and had two operations, to clean up the damage and then to pin my broken bones together.

“I’ve had fantastic care and treatments from all the NHS personnel who’ve treated me, including staff at the hospital and the road ambulance crew.

“It’s fantastic that they have got medical crews who will fly to you and treat you at the scene.”   

To thank the Wales Air Ambulance for their help that day, Richard is back in the saddle taking on a cycling challenge to raise vital funds for the charity.

“I was amazed to learn Wales Air Ambulance is a charity. I wanted to give something back so this summer, to mark one year since my accident, I’ll be completing the 150-mile Coast-to-Coast challenge with a group of friends.”

Wales Air Ambulance relies on donations to raise £6.5 million every year to fly its four helicopters across Wales. The charity is on standby every day and last year responded to more than 2,500 missions.

Its medical crews are supplied in partnership with NHS Wales, through the Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service (EMRTS Cymru), meaning the charity can fly consultants and critical care practitioners (CCPs) to an emergency.

Operations manager Mark Winter said: “We’re thrilled to hear Richard has made a good recovery and is back cycling again.

“Having doctors and CCPs on board our helicopters means we can fly the A&E department to the patient. Providing advanced treatments on scene and taking the patient directly to the hospital with the appropriate specialist care can speed up recovery.

“Richard’s fundraising challenge will help to keep us in the air helping more people across Wales.”  

Richard aims to raise £500 in aid of Wales Air Ambulance. To sponsor Richard, visit his JustGiving page here.

 

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