A CYCLIST who suffered horrific injuries to his leg after being knocked off his bike in Newton Aycliffe has thanked the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) for coming to his aid.
Neil Petch, 36, from Spennymoor, was cycling with two of his friends from his local cycling club along Ricknall Lane, Newton Aycliffe, when a car travelling at 65 mph unexpectedly crashed into the back of Mr Petch’s bike.
Recalling the incident, Mr Petch said: “I went flying and did a somersault before landing on a gravel path. My leg was broken and my back was fractured. I was too hurt and in pain to see my leg, and the lads kept me still while they rang 999. The car had smashed the back of my bike and the headlight had taken part of my calf away so it was pretty gruesome looking.”
The North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) initially arrived at the scene but when they realised the seriousness of Mr Petch’s injuries they called in the GNAAS paramedic and doctor team for their assistance.
Mr Petch was airlifted to James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough on October 19 2014 and stayed there for 13 nights.
He underwent spinal fixation surgery for his back, had dead tissue removed from his calf to help his leg wound heal more efficiently and also skin grafts.
He said: “When my wife saw my leg she was more traumatised than me. I spent a month in bed with my calf bandaged up and I was off work for six and a half months.
“The consultant said I might not walk again but I’m stubborn and made sure that didn’t happen.”
Mr Petch’s leg took approximately nine months to heal properly and he even got back on his bike seven months after the incident.
He recently visited the GNAAS base at Durham Tees Valley Airport with his family to personally thank Dr Dion Arbid who treated him and show his appreciation for the charity.
He said: “GNAAS is fantastic, we see the helicopter fly over where we live and we’re pleased to hear the sound of it but at the same time it’s sad because we know someone has had an accident. What the crew do is unbelievable. They carry blood on board and life-saving equipment which you can take for granted if you’re in hospital, so to have it on the helicopter and bring it to an injured person is amazing.”
To support GNAAS and its doctor-led trauma teams, please visit the charity’s website at www.gnaas.com or call 01325-487263. Last year, it needed to raise £5.1m to survive.