A professional triathlete has paid tribute to the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) after a cycling accident left him with a fractured skull, broken neck and broken back.
Alistair Robinson, 30, originally from Dockray, near Ullswater, was cycling on the A66 near Threlkeld when he collided with a bus on April 21.
He said: “I don’t remember anything about the accident so I don’t actually know what happened but I was cycling on a route between Penrith and Keswick.
“There was a bus with a double puncture stopped in a carriageway and I think I hit what had caused the puncture and crashed into the bus.
“Luckily there were an off-duty doctor and fireman who were in the queue of traffic after the accident and were on scene in a matter of minutes. They looked after me, along with members of the public, before emergency services arrived.
“I remember waking up to the sound of the air ambulance rotors.”
GNAAS flew to the scene and swiftly transported Mr Robinson to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.
He said: “I believe the time scale from having the accident to being at hospital was only an hour, which is amazing.”
Mr Robinson underwent a seven-hour operation. He said: “I had fractures to my skull, a broken thoracic spine and a broken neck.
“Of the nine vertebrae I broke, several were unstable and so I had to have these fused. Four screws and two rods were used to bridge the badly damaged vertebrae and create a scaffold which parallels my spine.
“I was fitted with a halo brace which is fixed to my skull with four screws and support around my body with a brace – this effectively stops my neck from moving and allows the fractures to heal.
“I am now on what is likely to be a long road to recovery but hopefully a full one.”
The pro triathlete has competed in competitions all around Europe, as well as taking part in local races such as the Buttermere triathlon. He was a pro cyclist for eight years before becoming a triathlete.
Mr Robinson said the accident happened just two weeks before the European triathlon season.
He said: “2014 is completely wrote off but my sponsors have been very supportive.
“It would all have been a different story had I not been wearing my helmet and I was lucky to escape any nerve damage.
“It makes you realise how many people are indebted to the air ambulance and the brilliant service they provide.
“I’d also like to thank everyone on Ward 16 Neurology at the Newcastle RVI who looked after me – the staff there are amazing.
“I’d encourage anyone who was at the scene of the accident to get in touch so I can give them a special thank you.”
To track Mr Robinson’s progress and to get in touch, please visit his website: www.alirobinsonracing.com or follow on Twitter @alitriathlon