By now we expect you’re all familiar with the work of the Russ Appeal, raising money for the Air Ambulance service that plucked the eponymous Russ Pinder off the Welsh mountainside that he’d crashed on with such severity that he was left permanently paralysed. Well, now we’ve got another tale of a rider saved by the Air Ambulances, and he’s on the fundraising trail too. We’ll let Peter Gibb tell his own story:
I was out training for a week in Morzine, to include the FreeRaid Classic, when I took a jump that I’d done a few times before. Except that this time some kids had been digging around it. I have no memory from the day before the accident until two weeks later when they began lightening my sedation in intensive care so I don’t know exactly what happened. Maybe I tried to chicken out too late, or just got it wrong, but the bike and I parted company at an early
stage. I landed headfirst, pile-driving myself into the dirt.
The helmet shattered, but even with that absorbing some of the impact the crash left me with a brain haemorrhage, a broken neck, a broken back in two places and a broken rib which punctured my left lung. My buddy called 999 on his mobile but the ambulance couldn’t find where to go – we were a mile from the nearest road. When the call went in to the Thames Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance, they were just putting the helicopter away for the night at its base at White Waltham Airfield, near Maidenhead, Berkshire.
Fifteen minutes later, they were landing a hundred yards away from where I lay and immediately began treating my injuries, stabilising me before loading me into the helicopter. They’d been there for almost half an hour when the land crew arrived – it would have taken them a further quarter of an hour to carry me back to the ambulance. As it was, five minutes later the Bolkow 105 landed at Milton Keynes General Hospital and I was admitted to the intensive
care unit where I remained for the next three weeks. It was a couple of weeks before the sedation was lightened enough for me to regain consciousness and I was taken off the ventilator but I still have a tracheotomy scar as a reminder.
Pretty nasty stuff, and another potent illustration of what a deeply valuable thing the air ambulance is. Peter’s still recovering from his injuries, but while in hospital he set himself a goal of getting riding again and doing a sponsored ride to raise funds for the air ambulance that saved him. His planned 30 mile ride might not sound like much, but he’s still carrying a spinal injury that makes cycling (and indeed walking) difficult.
The Golden Chopper Ride is scheduled for 19 September, and Peter’s looking for both participants and sponsors. Clothing company Howies has already signed up as a kind of anti-corporate sponsor. All the details you need are at www.neonfox.net – on the site you can sign up to ride yourself or pledge sponsorship for someone who’s riding.
Back to Peter:
I’m ashamed to say that I wasn’t that aware of the air ambulance before the accident. I knew that there was one and that they raised funds, but I was ignorant to the fact that they are charities and receive no Government funding. Even before I left intensive care, I knew this ride was something I wanted to do, something that kept me going through the weeks and months of physiotherapy and rehabilitation. I wanted to do it in part to try to repay some of the debt of gratitude I owed them but I also wanted to do it because it was events like this one in the years
before my accident that meant that when I needed them, they were there. Now I’m able to ride again, I want to do it because I can. and the fact that I can is in no small way thanks to them.
As mountain bikers, we’re more likely to need to call on the air ambulance than most. If the worst should happen, you want to make sure these guys have enough money to keep the chopper flying.