‘You never expect to need them,’ says Trevor, 58, when asked what Thames Valley Air Ambulance means to him. ‘But when you do, you realise just how valuable they are.’
On a glorious sunny day in September 2018, experienced cyclist Trevor set off on the bike ride that would change his future. As he negotiated a roundabout, a car collided with him and knocked him unconscious. Our paramedic Tracey and doctor Rich got the call at RAF Benson and, with pilot Dave at the controls, immediately flew to the scene.
The camera crew from More4’s Emergency Helicopter Medics was with them that day, and the aftermath of the incident appeared in series three, episode six. Tracey and Rich found Trevor now conscious but suffering pain down his left side and bleeding from his ear.
Because Trevor couldn’t remember either the accident itself or anything from earlier in the day, Rich suspected a brain injury. ‘Trevor’s helmet had completely split open, implying that the force of impact was huge,’ Rich says. ‘Helmets are designed to take the damage, so a helmet that has exploded has taken most of the force – and that’s a good thing. It probably saved his life.’
The crew wanted to transfer him to a major trauma centre so he could be assessed by a neurologist. Time was of the essence, because there was a risk of blood building up under his skull and putting pressure on his brain – which could result in permanent damage.
A land ambulance transferred Trevor to the helicopter in a nearby field and our crew flew him to the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford for intensive treatment. As our crew suspected, Trevor did have a brain injury, and had broken his skull, collarbone and ribs. He has been left with permanent hearing loss but is gradually recovering and he and his wife Cathy know he might not have survived at all without Tracey and Rich’s skill.
Although Trevor no longer cycles, he remains keen on the sport and stays involved by taking photos at cycling events. ‘Thames Valley Air Ambulance is incredible and their support has been fantastic,’ says Trevor. ‘I am still on the road to recovery but without their help things could have been much worse.’