A few years ago, Tom Milligan’s life was dramatically changed when he was thrown from his motorbike in a road traffic accident in Atcham, near Shrewsbury.
It was a normal Friday afternoon in May 2012 and like so many people finishing the working week, Tom was looking forward to the weekend. Just five minutes into his commute home on his Suzuki and the weekend was the last thing on his mind as he came off his bike on a bend. The accident was so severe that he was thrown into the air, crashing into a road sign and through a hedge before finally landing unconscious in a field adjacent to the road.
31 year old Tom from Telford comments: “One minute I was on my bike just about to take the bend, and the next I woke up in a field with people all around me. It was quite scary as I couldn’t move and was in a lot of pain.”
Passing drivers saw what happened and came running to Tom’s aid amid the carnage. A land ambulance crew was deployed and tended to Tom, but it was soon established he required urgent hospital attention. The Midlands Air Ambulance, from the Cosford airbase was at the incident scene in under ten minutes.
Former warehouse zone leader, Tom, explains what happened next: “I could hear the helicopter coming and knew I must have been in a bad way to need the air ambulance. As I high-sided and hit so many objects before landing, I fractured three vertebrae, fractured eight ribs and tore the tendons in my left foot.”
Tom was taken to the aircraft by the land ambulance and flown to University Hospital of North Staffordshire in just eight minutes. He adds: “I remember being looked after by one of the doctors on board, but it was all so surreal, I never expected to need an air ambulance, but there I was being given urgent treatment on route to hospital, it was an experience like no other.”
Unfortunately Tom’s incident isn’t uncommon, as 50 per cent of MAAC’s missions involve road traffic accidents, with a vast number involving motor bikers. Due to the often severe nature of motorcycle incidents, the speed at which patients are transferred to hospital can make a big difference in terms of recovery, which is why the air ambulance is so heavily relied upon.
Tom spent a total of three months in hospital and required physiotherapy to help him walk again. “I was one of the lucky ones, I’d been told other patients who’d broken the same vertebrae had been paralysed from the neck down. It just doesn’t bear thinking about,” says Tom.
Due to his injuries and on going rehabilitation Tom hasn’t been able to return to work or ride a motorbike since his accident. He states: “To begin with I didn’t miss the bike at all as the crash really shook me, but a year on I’m starting to miss the thrill it. I’ve been given the all clear by the consultant, which was a long time coming, but demonstrates how far I’ve come since the crash.
“I attended this year’s Bike4Life event at Cosford, which was a great event for bikers whether they arrive on two wheels or four. You never know I may have a bike again next year and take part in the ride out, as that looked like a lot of fun.”
He adds: “Midlands Air Ambulance Charity is amazing, I’m so thankful that the crew came to my rescue, and I honestly don’t think I would be here without them.”