“THANK you for saving my life,” were the words of Cumbrian wagon driver Ben Finlinson when he met the air medics who flew to his aid following a serious crash on the A66.
Mr Finlinson made the trip the Great North Air Ambulance Service’s Langwathby base to thank those who helped him following his collision with another lorry at Warcop on January 14, 2013.
Mr Finlinson, 28, from Cleator Moor, said: “I lost control of the wagon. It reared onto the verge and then back to the other side and hit an oncoming lorry.”
The Great North Air Ambulance Service’s (GNAAS) on-board trauma team was dispatched to Mr Finlinson alongside a BASICS rapid response doctor and paramedics from the North West Ambulance Service.
Mr Finlinson had suffered a severe facial laceration, badly broken arm, spinal fractures, bruised lungs and solar plexus injuries.
His mother, Shirley Finlinson, 55, said: “The lorry was carrying an oil rig which acted like a bit of a guillotine. It basically sliced the cab off Ben’s side. He was badly injured. He lost an awful amount of blood.
“I could cry thinking about it, seeing your kids have to suffer. It’s horrible. An off-duty police officer who was at the scene told us later that he’d never seen as much blood.”
The GNAAS aircrew administered advanced pain relief and treatment to Mr Finlinson who was trapped for around an hour. He was then flown to James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough where he spent four days in the high dependency unit and a further six days on a ward.
Mr Finlinson underwent five operations including two nerve transfers. The surgical technique is used when a patient has a nerve injury resulting in loss of muscle function and involves moving nerves from one area to another to regain movement. Mr Finlinson now has around 70 per cent use of his arm.
Mrs Finlinson, a team leader at the Co-op in Cleator Moor, said: “Being a fit lad and always doing something, it was traumatic for him. He had his arm strapped to his body for six weeks.
“I am so proud of how far he’s come.”
Mr Finlinson, a self-employed wagon driver, visited the charity’s Langwathby airbase along with his family and met GNAAS paramedic Andy Dalton who helped him on the day of the incident.
Mr Finlinson said: “It’s been a long road to recovery but I wouldn’t be here without GNAAS.
“Thank you for saving my life. I’m just pleased I am able to say a proper thanks.”
Mrs Finlinson has since shown her gratitude to the charity by taking on a parachute jump and raising £1,600. She said: “I can’t praise GNAAS enough. It’s of absolute massive importance.
“It was nice for us as a family to be able to thank Andy. We will remember our day with the GNAAS team for a long time.”
Speaking of her challenge, she said: “I wanted to give something back. It was one of the best things I’ve ever done.”
GNAAS is celebrating its 15 year anniversary as an independent registered charity. To find out how you can support the charity, please visit www.gnaas.com