Malcolm’s Story

Malcom Tucker is an author and car enthusiast who, since his accident, has gone on to hold a charity dinner and talk in aid of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance. On the day of his accident Malcolm was working on restoring his classic car when he tripped and fell, dislocating his shoulder. Below he tells his story.

Familiarity breeds contempt, goes the old saying, but sometimes familiarity breeds carelessness.  So was the case two years ago, when I was walking from a store room in my sixteenth century thatched barn into an adjoining disused horse-stall, which now houses my lathe and workshop. The task in hand that day had been to find a piece of metal to make a small part for my 1934 Humber car, which I was restoring.

Just as I had done a thousand times before, I stepped over various boxes of old car bits and pieces as I studied the piece of metal and concentrated on how best to make it into the shape that was needed. That day it was cold and I had on some sheepskin boots with thick rubber soles. As I stepped over a box about a cubic foot in size full of old heavy chain, that could not be kicked out of the way, the toe of my boot caught the top of the box.  I fell forward, and my body twisted and my left arm automatically extended to break the fall.  Ahead of me was a low bench, and I crashed into the sharp corner of it, shoulder first, falling into a heap on the floor.

I knew immediately that something bad had happened.  The pain was intense, and my left arm was immobile at an odd angle. I broke out in a sweat and felt nauseous but assessed the situation quickly.  I tried to stand but couldn’t manage to move much at all.  My wife was in the house some twenty metres or so away from the barn, and so a shout for help might just have been heard. I couldn’t think of a better thing to do.

One, two, three shouts and no response, but on the fourth yell a timid female voce said, “Where are you?”.  “By the lathe”. I replied. “I don’t know what you mean.” came back the answer, which generated a much more robust reply from me.

“I was just riding past on my horse” said the female voice, and I realised it was not my beloved, after all. “Sorry, I’ve had an accident, my wife’s in the house. Can you get her?” All went quiet except for the sound of hoof on gravel, and soon my wife appeared and returned to the house to ring for an ambulance.  She reappeared with a phone and relayed my answers to the emergency services operator.

A land ambulance was promised, but after five minutes the operator rang back to say the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance was on its way back to its Thruxton Airbase and would make a detour for me.  A field was identified a couple of hundred metres from the barn, and the helicopter settled down onto the grass quite soon.  The Critical Care Team arrived and administered morphine, having cut off my pullover and shirt to see the problem, and between them, they managed to pull me gently to my feet.

Communications with the pilot established the fact that I would need to be taken to Winchester hospital, and that a refuelling stop would be needed at Thruxton on the way.  But at that moment the road ambulance arrived, and it was decided that the quickest journey would be by land not air, so no helicopter for me.

Sitting bent over at an awkward angle with arm on knee, we sped along the A34 with me sucking on gas like a junkie on a Hookah pipe.  Once at Winchester, I was attended to without delay, and after X-Rays and a few different manipulations, the humerus popped back into its socket and I regained very limited, relatively pain-free movement.  It would be the best part of a year before I recovered 99% of full movement. I still have some discomfort and a little numbness in my thumb due to nerve damage.

For me, the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance Critical Care Team being on hand to assess the trauma, supply prompt medical aid, administer morphine and help me to my feet without causing more painful damage was a godsend.

Fortunately, pain has no memory, but humour does, and so I must tell you that when my wife answered the door and heard the young lady rider say, ‘There’s been an accident’ she looked at the horse and asked, ‘Shall I call a vet?’  So, dear reader instead of recovering to tell this tale, I might very well have been put down.