“Nobody ever leaves their house thinking they might have an accident that day, but as I saw far too often, they or their loved ones might need that helicopter.”
Travelling at more than 100mph on the A31 at Four Marks, near Alton, Police Officer Nick Barman was catapulted more than 300 feet off his motorbike and through the air when a car pulled out in front of him. While Nick had sustained multiple life-threatening injuries, he was alive. But only just.
Having joined the Police Service at 25-years-old, Nick, who was 47 at the time, soon found himself loving life as part of the Traffic Department. A highly skilled and trained emergency biker, Nick was adept at travelling at high speeds.
But disaster struck on a February morning in 2013, when Nick and his bike responded to a call for help at the scene of a road traffic collision, where a motorcyclist had been hit by a car.
Nick was thrown over his handlebars and into the road – he was powerless.
The Air Ambulance dispatcher was alerted to the severity of the incident and dispatched the team immediately.
It was obvious to them as they circled overhead that Nick had been travelling at high speed and was likely to be seriously ill. Their instinct was right.
Life-saving critical care
The team landed and got to work on Nick. They quickly cut away his leathers and assessed his injuries. It was looking bleak. The team took control of Nick’s airways by placing him into an induced coma, but he was still struggling to breathe. Both of his lungs had collapsed.
To keep Nick alive, the team performed a thoracotomy to allow his lungs to re-inflate. They made an incision through the chest wall in both sides of the chest, which goes through the muscles between the ribs and into the chest cavity itself, allowing the lungs to re-inflate. It is immediately lifesaving.
Nick had broken his left foot, left ankle, both legs, above and below the knee, his pelvis, left shoulder, back and all the ribs on his left side. He had a torn bowel and sustained a slight brain injury. His blood pressure was falling dangerously low. He was now stable and flown to hospital to undergo major surgery.
Learning to walk again
After five days in the Intensive Care Unit, and two more rounds of surgery, Nick was moved onto a general ward where he started on a gruelling path of physiotherapy to get back on his feet.
“There wasn’t a part of me other than my right arm that could move,” explained Nick.
“My legs wouldn’t move straight anymore – they were so bent. My back wouldn’t straighten either. It sometimes felt like it was never going to be right again.”
Thanks to Nick’s remarkable determination he took his first steps just 14 weeks after his accident.
“I do still have quite limited mobility, but I can walk and I’m alive. For that I’m eternally grateful to Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance.
“I donated to the charity before the accident, as I regularly saw the importance of the service it provides – although I never thought I’d end up being rescued by them!
“I would ask everybody to donate if they can. Nobody ever leaves their house thinking they might have an accident that day, but as I saw far too often, they or their loved ones might need that helicopter. I did and thank God it was there!”