Malcolm’s story from Market Lavington

Malcolm Tripp, of Market Lavington, was airlifted by Wiltshire Air Ambulance in September 2014 after a freak accident while gardening, when a garden fork became imbedded in his leg. Malcolm, a retired BT engineer, became a volunteer with the charity in 2016 and tells his story.

“Having spent the afternoon gardening on Sunday 21 September 2014, my son and I were finishing off before going in for our well earned dinner. Our garden has a number of layers and several retaining walls with wide stone slabs on the top to allow us to walk round.

It was while I was walking round the top wall that one of the slabs I stepped on moved, causing me to fall. After this happened all was a bit blank until I found myself on the lawn below with the garden fork (which I was holding at the time) through my upper leg.

My son having witnessed this ran down to the lower level to see if I was OK, not knowing the full result of my fall. On seeing the extent of my injury he quickly dialled 999. My neighbours were absolutely brilliant (one being a nurse) and carried out first aid until the professionals arrived.

First to arrive was a paramedic and then the ambulance service who were both very professional, but they quickly realised that this situation would need the extra medical and transport capabilities of the Wiltshire Air Ambulance team.

It was not long before I heard the sound of the helicopter overhead, but not having a suitable landing area near my home it landed in our local comprehensive school playing fields.

With the medical expertise of the crew on board the helicopter they were able to administer the necessary pain relieving drugs and quickly assess the best course of action. This involved organising the most appropriate hospital to cope with my injury type and administering the correct pain relief to make me as comfortable as possible.

The next step was to transport me from my back garden to the comprehensive school where the helicopter had landed. I was taken to the helicopter in a land ambulance and the journey was painful even with the pain relief, as every dip in the road surface was felt. I remember thinking if we had to travel all the way like this to hospital it would have been horrendous.

Luckily the school was only a short distance away so it was not long until I was safely into the helicopter. All the time the Wiltshire Air Ambulance crew were reassuring me and it only took 14 minutes to get me to Southmead Hospital in Bristol.

I already knew what a magnificent job Wiltshire Air Ambulance did, living just six miles from their present Operations Centre and seeing them flying day to day, but to experience their professionalism first hand is very humbling.

I had the pleasure of meeting Jo and Ross, the paramedics who attended my accident. To be able to thank them in person was fantastic and brought home to me again what an essential job Wiltshire Air Ambulance does for our county.

How can you repay something like this? Well, after some research, I became a volunteer with Wiltshire Air Ambulance and I have not looked back. I have represented the charity at concerts and presentations and helped with last year’s Christmas cards. This not only helps me to give something back, but I have met some really lovely people who inspire not only me but everybody they meet and talk to.”