A life on crutches is a constant physical reminder for Arthur Garrod, whose accident required the urgent assistance of the air ambulance.
On THAT terrible day 10 years ago, Arthur was run over by a tractor and was to experience his first air ambulance flight to the hospital, never thinking in his wildest dreams he would require the service again.
But, while on an annual campervan holiday in the Clutha Valley in March, Arthur missed his footing whilst stepping out of an old disused church, that saw him take a tumble and require divine assistance for a second time. “I forgot about the step,” he smiled wryly.
In exteme pain, Arthur had to wait until medics arrived to transport him to Balclutha Hospital. An examination discovered two fractured ribs requiring further assessment at Dunedin Hospital, but due to the unavailability of an ambulance, a painful journey in his own vehicle was the only option.
Abandoning their campervan, Arthur and wife, May, drove to Dunedin Hospital in the little vehicle that they had been towing around with them. Once there, a further examination revealed he had actually broken his back. The holiday was over as he lay in a hospital bed for the next 10 days coping with severe pain. “I could hardly move,” he said.
The Garrod’s, hailing from Waiuku, South Auckland, couldn’t have been further away from home and getting Arthur back up north was a pressing need. A domestic flight as a seated passenger was completely out of the question, therefore the medical team dispatched the Hamilton-based Westpac Air Ambulance, crewed by full-time flight nurses and the latest in aero-medical equipment, to transfer Arthur from Dunedin to Auckland’s Middlemore Hospital.
“The flight was terrific,” he said. “After all my pain in the hospital, I felt nothing at all on the flight. It never hurt one bit!”
Arthur transferred between Middlemore Hospital and Pukekohe Rehabilitation Unit for the next couple of months during which time he had an operation to have screws inserted to fuse the break.
Meanwhile, the Garrods weren’t the only ones needing to make a road trip north; there was the slight matter of a stranded campervan and car still sitting at Tuapeka Mouth near Balclutha. The Garrods were very keen to be reunited with their vehicles, so Arthur’s wife got in touch with the church’s caretakers who put out an SOS. In no time, a school bus driver from Oamaru put up his hand.
“He had some spare time to do a roady up the country with our vehicles,” said Arthur, “and we paid his expenses.”
Plans for any future campervan holidays are on hold while Arthur undertakes physical therapy and gets back to full strength, but he is grateful for his saving air ambulance flight.