A man who lost his leg during a traffic accident owes his life to a passing stranger and EMRTS medics – and is now walking tall after being fitted with a high-tech artificial limb.
Richard Jones, who worked in construction, was driving a truck on the A40 towards Johnstown in Carmarthen when he was involved in a collision in February 2020.
Then aged 30, he has no recollection of the incident, but witnesses told police he hit a crash barrier, which flung his Toyota Hilux pick-up in the air and into a large sign and poles, half throwing him from the vehicle.
He suffered catastrophic injuries including a severed artery in the right leg, but was fortunate ex-army medic Ian Thompson was passing and stopped at the scene to apply tourniquets.
Soon after, the Wales Air Ambulance arrived with EMRTS consultant Dr Bob Tipping and critical care practitioner Marc Allen. Richard showed signs of internal bleeding and received six units of blood products in total, administered by Bob and Marc at the roadside. Due to the severity of his injuries, they also gave him a general anaesthetic and put him onto a ventilator to control his breathing.
The Wales Air Ambulance medics then transferred Richard, via a road ambulance, to the nearest specialist centre for limb injuries, at Morriston Hospital. Although surgeons were able to save his left leg they had no choice but to amputate the right above the knee.
Richard woke up in the Intensive Therapy Unit (ITU) ten days later unable to remember much about the accident.
Richard said: “One of the main flashbacks I have is being on the floor, not really knowing what’s happened but a guy in a red suit standing over me. I have been told that this was one of the crew from Wales Air Ambulance.
“I’ve always heard stories and read online about all the amazing things the Wales Air Ambulance did. However, I never really thought about the service before and never thought I’d end up needing their assistance”.
“And I had never heard of EMRTS before but now I know what they are and what they do – they bring the expertise of the Accident and Emergency department to the roadside. Their quick response, as well as that of Ian Thompson and the surgeons in Morriston, helped to save my life”.
A year ago Richard and partner Michaela welcomed their baby boy Dougie into the world. Richard had been using an artificial leg which would occasionally bend when he put his weight on it, which made him anxious when carrying Dougie. But that is no longer a problem after being fitted with a replacement leg, completed with a microprocessor knee, which provides far more stability.
“I had the old leg when Dougie was born but I could have never have carried him with that leg.
“I’d only have to have it slightly bent If I put the weight on it and it would fold up, and I’d be on the floor.
“But the new knee has been absolutely life-changing for me. It has really pushed me on in my recovery, and my progress in everything”.