Photo 1, L-R: Air Ambulance doctor Clint Jones, Dr Malcolm Tunnicliff, John Wingate and critical care paramedic Stu Plumbley
A Ditton carpenter who was almost crushed to death in an industrial accident has been reunited with the Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance team who helped saved his life.
Father-of-two John Wingate, 45, suffered a punctured lung, broken ribs and a lacerated liver after he became trapped in a two-tonne woodcutting machine.
Firefighters from the Technical Rescue Unit spent 40 minutes freeing him from the machinery using specialist lifting gear as he remained conscious throughout.
He said: “I could feel my ribs breaking. I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t scream and I couldn’t breathe. I thought I was going to die.
“I thought that was my lot and it was going to be a horrible ending but luckily enough I managed to stop the machine.”
A fellow worker at the site in Laddingford raised the alarm and paramedics from South East Coast Ambulance (SECAmb) and their Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) were first on scene.
The air ambulance’s doctor, Clint Jones, and critical care paramedic Stu Plumbley arrived and gave him advanced pain relief.
John was then taken to the Major Trauma Centre at King’s College Hospital where he suffered a potentially fatal cardio respiratory attack two days later.
He underwent three operations before he was finally allowed home after three weeks following his accident in October and was recently reunited with the Air Ambulance doctor and paramedic as he visited the helicopter base at Redhill with his wife Lizzie.
He said: “I just found it very inspiring and I’m extremely glad that the air ambulance exists. A week later I saw the helicopter go over my house and it actually bought a lump to my throat.
“I just feel totally indebted to the air ambulance and the other emergency services. I’ve been to see the firemen as well and they were really pleased to see me as they said I was one of only a handful of people in 25 years to go and say thank you.
“It was one of those accidents that stuck in their minds and I’m here now because of the first aid I received and the care I got in hospital. I’m just happy to be alive.”
John, a former motorbike racer, is planning to return to work in the New Year once he has made a full recovery.