On 11 October 2014 at around 09:15 Ben was driving to work at Sainsbury’s near his home in a small sports car when he swerved to avoid a pheasant and hit a tree. An ambulance was called by a passer by, and then one of his colleagues saw his Sainsbury’s jacket and stopped. The air ambulance were called shortly after and landed in a field next to the road.
When Anglia Two crew Doctor Adam Chesters and critical-care paramedic Jemma Varela arrived they gave him some strong pain killers, splinted and repositioned his leg, which was very obviously broken, and flew him to Addenbrooke’s. They were concerned that he was bleeding internally, so it was crucial that he got to hospital as soon as possible.
Once in hospital the biggest concern was internal bleeding, so they scanned Ben to see what was going on before operating. Ben had smashed his knee cap, broken his tibia and cracked his femur, broken three ribs and his collar bone and had a compression fracture in his back. He had also perforated his bowel and his spleen was bleeding.
I have been back to the crash site to see the tree that caused me so many problems, there was no sign of the pheasant though!
Ben was in surgery for about 5 hours that afternoon, and spent the following three weeks in hospital. He subsequently went on to have a further 5 operations. He was initially told he would be in for about eight weeks, so did an excellent job of recovering.
To begin with he was wheelchair bound at home and gradually progressed to crutches. He had to wear a back brace for 6 weeks, and then a leg brace for a further month.
Ben was a keen sports player before his accident, and when he asked about whether his back would allow him to play again he was told after 6 months it should be fine. He’s not sure whether his leg will take contact sports though, but he does hope to get back to it. He is driving again, although in a slightly more robust car, and has been back to the crash site to see the tree that caused him so many problems. The pheasant was long gone.
Ben is currently battling an infection from the metal plate inside his shin, so that will have to be removed in the future, but at the moment it’s being managed with antibiotics. This also caused him to have a further four operations to clean the plate.
Ben’s not sure what his future holds – perhaps a degree in international studies, or the army, but he is incredibly grateful to the team who attended him that day, and the hospital team following the accident for ensuring that he has a future.
Ben recently visited the base and met Dr Chesters to thank him for his life-saving work, which was an excellent opportunity for Ben and Dr Chesters to swap stories of their own experiences of that day.