Wednesday 5th March 2014 – 12.00pm – Suzie Fothergill.
A Shropshire farmer was recently reunited with a number of his rescuers following a serious incident where he became impaled on a piece of farming machinery.
On Thursday 13th February, farmer, Graham Heatley from Lyneal, was working on his farm moving silage bails when the incident happened. As he was opening the wrapping on one of the bails, the machinery he had been working on moved towards him and impaled his body against the bail.
The bailing spike, which was approximately 18 inches in length, pierced through the right-hand side of Graham’s lower back, travelling through his body to his front left-hand side.
Although Graham had his mobile phone in his pocket he couldn’t reach it to call for help. Knowing he was in trouble Graham yelled for help. Fortunately neighbour, Henry Rook, who was outside in his garden heard Graham shouting and immediately rushed to his aid.
Due to power cuts affecting the landline phone system in village that week, Henry had to contact the emergency services via his mobile phone. As the farm is situated in a rural location, with limited mobile phone signal, Henry had to dial 999 three times before he managed to finally carry out the call in full.
West Midlands Ambulance Service crews rushed to the scene. The first crew to arrive assessed Graham and immediately requested the assistance from the Midlands Air Ambulance from Cosford, which was carrying a critical care paramedic and a trauma doctor. The fire service was also requested as it quickly became clear that help would be needed to free Graham from the machinery.
Kerry Hemus, Critical Care Paramedic from the air ambulance said: “When we arrived Graham was pinned against the bail with the spike from the bailer penetrating through his body. Although it hadn’t pierced right the way through his front, I could feel the point of the prong just underneath his skin.
“We were extremely concerned as we didn’t know what damage he may have sustained internally. We were also worried that Graham could lose a lot of blood when trying to free him from the machinery, so we requested for the Midlands Air Ambulance from Staffordshire to collect blood from University Hospital of North Staffordshire and bring it to the scene.
“Working closely with the fire service, we explored various ways to try and free Graham without causing any further injury. Their cutting machinery was unable to cut through the spike and so the only way to free him was to try and removed the spike by unscrewing the prong from the bailer. Graham was given advanced pain relief and carefully monitored as the fire service set to work. Eventually the spike was carefully removed from the machinery. After being trapped for approximately two hours Graham was finally free and was able to be airlifted to hospital with the spike still in situ. Fortunately for Graham, he didn’t lose too much blood but having the blood there on hand just in case could have proved extremely helpful.
“I’ve attended to a number of farming incidents but nothing quite like this one. Amazingly despite the massive penetrating injury, Graham had been talking to us throughout the incident and the majority of his observations were surprisingly stable.
“It’s so lovely and quite overwhelming to see Graham out of hospital so soon after the incident and doing so well. There are lots of major organs and blood vessels near to the site of the injury and Graham is extremely fortunate not to have severed any of those.”
Graham, who underwent surgery at University Hospital of North Staffordshire returned home after just six days. Talking at the reunion Graham said: “I’m extremely thankful to be here, it could’ve been a very different story. I’d like to thank everyone for their help, if Henry hadn’t of heard me calling and if it wasn’t for the emergency services I probably wouldn’t be here now.”
Pictured: Kerry Hemus, Graham Heatley and John Deakin (Shropshire Fire Service). If used, pictures should be crediated to West Midlands Ambulance Service.
An interview with Graham on BBC Midlands Today can be viewed by following http://wmas.nhs.uk/2014/03/05/farmer-impaled/
An interview with BBC Radio Shropshire can be listen to by clicking on the play icon below: