Geoff Atkinson

Airlifted Date: 
September 2013
Airlifted From: 
Nature of Incident: 
Fall From Ladder

“I was getting ready to go and meet a friend,” recalls Gill. “Geoff was outside pointing the wall. Suddenly I heard the ladder move.”

When Gill raced outside, she was confronted with her worst nightmare. Her husband Geoff was lying on the floor at the foot of the ladder unconscious. He had fallen four metres straight onto the hard ground below.

Gill had received first aid training as part of her job, so gave her husband CPR to get him breathing again whilst she waited for paramedics to arrive. A land ambulance crew were the first to arrive at the couple’s remote cottage between Camborne and Helston, with the air ambulance arriving just minutes later and landing in a nearby field. The land crew worked alongside air paramedics Steve and Mick to stabilise Geoff.

Aircrew paramedic Steve recalls: “Geoff was finding it very hard to breathe as he had a serious lung injury, but he also had really severe trauma injuries. We’d normally take a patient in his condition straight to the Major Trauma Unit at Derriford but in Geoff’s case we were so concerned about his breathing that we took him to the closest hospital: Treliske.”

After a 10 minute flight Geoff was taken straight into resus, where Doctors drained his chest and took scans and X-Rays. It was only then that the full extent of Geoff’s injuries became obvious. Geoff had a fractured skull and spine and had broken every rib on the right side of his chest in two places, leaving him with a flail chest – a potentially life-threatening condition. His trauma injuries were so severe that after his breathing was stabilised he was transferred to Derriford’s Major Trauma Unit.

Despite the extent of Geoff’s injuries, he amazed Doctors with the speed of his recovery; something he believes is down to the team involved.

“The teamwork was remarkable. The land ambulance got to me so quickly, then the land and air paramedics got me ready to go to hospital. That was when the air ambulance really came into its own. The fact it only took 10 minutes to get to Treliske made a huge difference to my recovery.

“I can’t thank the air ambulance and all the others involved enough. I just hope I never need their help again!”