Dr Paul McCormack, 60, of Sutton Benger, suffered serious injuries in a road traffic collision on 30 May 2016. The retired consultant eye surgeon, who worked for the Royal Air Force and subsequently for the NHS at the Great Western Hospital, Swindon, takes up the story.
“I’m lucky enough to have led a busy professional and adventurous outdoor social life and took early retirement in 2015 to continue my passions of travel, skiing and cycling.
Throughout my life, both as a serviceman and civilian, I enjoyed many active outdoor sports eg white water kayaking, sailing, windsurfing, trekking, mountaineering, mountain and road cycling.
Ironically I had just returned from a successful alpine skiing season including some moderately extreme off-piste trips when I had my accident. It was about 10 am and I was walking home after visiting a friend to discuss an overseas cycling trip, when on a narrow country lane without a footpath near Kington Langley, I was in collision with a car which was travelling at about 40mph. It happened on a blind bend and I sustained head, chest, and lower limb injuries.
I was attended to and stabilised medically by paramedics Steve and Fred from Wiltshire Air Ambulance at the scene of the accident, and was transferred across a field to the waiting helicopter and airlifted to Southmead Hospital, Bristol - a journey of 12 minutes.
I’m pleased to say that thanks to the skills and attentions of Wiltshire Air Ambulance and the Emergency, ICU, and Orthopaedic Departments at Southmead with rehabilitation physiotherapy at my local Hospital in Chippenham, I’m well on the way to recovery. So well in fact that I was able to complete the Wiltshire Big Wheel charity cycle ride for the Air Ambulance in September 2016 with the companionship of one of my strongest cycling friends John, who took the brunt of the headwinds for 45 miles, and my wife Nicky. I really enjoyed the cycle ride as during the first months following the accident I had wondered if I would ever cycle again. The feeling of satisfaction as I finished, both for the valuable funds we had raised from family and friends for Wiltshire Air Ambulance and with the realisation that I would be able to ride long distances again, was profound. In March 2017 I completed my first 100 mile bike ride since the accident in Majorca.
I visited Wiltshire Air Ambulance’s crew to thank them for their help and discuss the events of that day. It was good to show them the results of their skills and hard work and to see the medical equipment and helicopter. I was very impressed by how much initial response medical care has advanced since my time as a young doctor and what is achievable at the roadside or at the patient’s place of work or home, thanks to the ability to transfer skilled personnel and vital equipment to the scene quickly and then swiftly airlift the patient to an appropriate hospital.
Like many people, I did not realise that Wiltshire Air Ambulance relies almost completely on charitable funding to continue to operate. I am a witness as to how important and valuable its work is in our rural area, where transfer by road may result in potentially catastrophic treatment delays.
I am deeply grateful for the intervention of Wiltshire Air Ambulance on that fateful day.”