‘I think they are unsung heroes’ - Cambridgeshire man praises those who saved his life a year on from horrific accident

PUBLISHED: 13:02 08 April 2020 | UPDATED: 13:02 08 April 2020

Neil Granger from Willingham wants to help those who saved his life following an off-road accident. Picture: SUBMITTED

Neil Granger from Willingham wants to help those who saved his life following an off-road accident. Picture: SUBMITTED

Archant

He broke every bone in his face after a horrific off-roading accident just over a year ago, and for one Cambridgeshire man, life could well have taken a turn for the worse.

Neil (left) with winchman Jake Chappell. Picture: FAMILYNeil (left) with winchman Jake Chappell. Picture: FAMILY

Neil Granger from Willingham attempted to reverse his Land Rover Discovery up a slippery slope when the throttle cable snapped during a 4x4 winch challenge event at Tixover Quarry in Rutland.

The vehicle lost power and drive which, in turn, caused it to shoot forwards. Due to this vehicle malfunction, Neil sustained life-threatening injuries, losing an eye in the process, and was put into an induced coma a week after the crash.

Just over 12 months on, Neil, 48, has praised those who saved his life and wants to give something back to who he calls the “unsung heroes”.

“It was a freak accident. All I can remember was choking,” he said.

Neil was admitted to hospital with life-threatening injuries after the accident. Picture: SUBMITTEDNeil was admitted to hospital with life-threatening injuries after the accident. Picture: SUBMITTED

“I was strapped in and jammed behind the steering wheel, whilst my head was pulled out of the vehicle and wedged between my truck and a tree. I was being choked by the strap of my crash helmet and the last person I recall seeing was my winchman.”

The helmet ultimately saved Neil’s life, but it didn’t prevent him from breaking all the bones in his face, losing his right eye and suffering a bleed on the brain.

Neil also lost a lot of blood, his airway was obstructed, and when the air ambulance crew arrived at the scene of the accident, Neil had been freed from his vehicle by three fellow competitors. There was a land ambulance in attendance, and he was lying face down on a stretcher.

The air ambulance doctor and critical care paramedic had the experience to keep Neil’s airway clear and stabilise him so he was well enough to be transferred to the nearest major trauma centre - the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham - by land ambulance.

Neil (second from right) with Shaun Dighton (far left), Mark Johnson (second from left) and Stuart McClurg who helped save Neil's life. Picture: FAMILYNeil (second from right) with Shaun Dighton (far left), Mark Johnson (second from left) and Stuart McClurg who helped save Neil's life. Picture: FAMILY

They were able to give him drugs that most land ambulance crews are unable to administer.

Neil’s injuries meant that it was better to transport him by road. The air ambulance doctor accompanied him in the ambulance and was able to brief hospital staff about his condition when they arrived in Nottingham.

An off duty maxillofacial surgeon was called back to the hospital and Neil had an operation to realign part of his bottom jaw which had split in two.

He was put into an induced coma and five days later, after a 3D model of his skull had been created, Neil underwent a 12-hour operation to rebuild his face with 18 titanium plates.

The 3D model of Neil's skull after he was put into an induced coma. Picture: SUBMITTEDThe 3D model of Neil's skull after he was put into an induced coma. Picture: SUBMITTED

He was heavily sedated to help his recovery and, after another three days, was transferred to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge to continue his recovery.

Just 20 days after the accident on April 7, 2019, Neil was allowed home and returned to work five months later.

“While I was in hospital, I decided I wanted to do something for the air ambulance charity as I think they are unsung heroes,” Neil said.

Neil has received a wealth of support from the off-roading community, who he says are “like a family, helping him and wife Karen to raise over £8,000 for the Derbyshire, Leicestershire & Rutland Air Ambulance crew (DLRAA).

Neil has received support from the off-roading community after the accident. Picture: FAMILYNeil has received support from the off-roading community after the accident. Picture: FAMILY

“We could not think of any better way to show our thanks and appreciation than to have a fundraising event to raise as much as we could for the charity. They, in no uncertain terms, helped to save my husband’s life and we are without a doubt, truly grateful,” Karen said.

Neil and Karen aim to reach their £10,000 target for the DLRAA by the end of this year and will be selling Tixover off-road caps with Neil’s signature quote, ‘s**t happens’, written on them, as well as t-shirts, keyrings and stickers.

Lifesaving missions like Neils’ wouldn’t be possible without public support. Your local air ambulance crews are continuing their lifesaving missions through this difficult period, providing vital, critical care support to the NHS and relying solely on donations.

To find out more on how you can support your local air ambulance, call 0300 3045 999 or visit https://www.theairambulanceservice.org.uk.

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