Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Survivor reunited with life-savers

Photo 1: L-R Tony Gillam and Air Ambulance paramedic Lewis Price

Photo 2: L-R, Lewis, Tony and Air Ambulance doctor Neel Bhanderi

A motorcyclist critically injured in a road crash has been reunited with the Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance paramedic who helped save his life.

Company director Tony Gillam, 66, was on a BikeSafe course when he lost control on a bend at Coopers Corner in Sevenoaks.

The father-of-three suffered a traumatic brain injury and had to be given emergency treatment at the road-side by the charity helicopter’s doctor and paramedic.

Tony, from Oxted, was airlifted to a specialist neurological centre in London and spent a total of nine weeks in hospital but has since made a good recovery.

He said: “On the day of the accident I was having tuition on a BikeSafe course to brush up on my skills. I was followed by the observer in the morning and he picked up a couple of minor flaws in my riding ability.

“In the afternoon I was following behind him and another rider and we were warned about the road. The observer did tell us to be aware of manhole covers and drains in the middle of the road.

“I can’t remember anything of the accident but my son was following behind me on his bike and he said I went round the corner, touched the front brake and the bike just stood up and took me off into a bank.”

Paramedics from the South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) were first on scene and called in the Air Ambulance due to the severity of Tony’s injuries.

He was so agitated that Dr Alistair Rennie and Paramedic Lewis Price had to sedate him. They also gave him an emergency anaesthetic to protect his airway and prevent further brain injury – an advanced medical procedure usually performed only in hospital.

Pilot Kevin Goddard flew Tony to King’s College Hospital major trauma centre in London where scans confirmed a fractured skull, fractured neck and bleeding in his brain.

He was intensive care for nine days before being moved to a high dependency ward and was later transferred to his local East Surrey Hospital before finally being allowed home.

Tony is now back at work at the company he runs called Abbey Motorsport which specialises in high-performance vehicles. He recently visited the helicopter base at Marden to meet paramedic Lewis for the first time since his accident in August.

He added: “I’ve been in business for 50 years and no decisions are taken lightly but the decisions they have to make day in day out in the treatment they have to give patients, is amazing.

“Before the accident I decided to get back into car racing and lost about 10 stone so I was a lot fitter which my consultant said probably helped save my life.”

Tony has been riding motorbikes for 50 years and is planning to get back on his 1200cc Suzuki Bandit again despite his accident.

And his son Mark has vowed to run the Canary Wharf Triathlon to raise funds for the Air Ambulance which relies almost entirely on donations.

Lewis said: “It was great to see Tony as he is now, up and mobile and enjoying things that he did almost to the point that he did before the accident. Seven months on, he has done remarkably well and his recovery is amazing.”

* If you would like to make a donation to the Air Ambulance please call 01622 833833 or go to www.kssairambulance.org.uk

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