LOUGHTON/BUCKHURST HILL: Injured cyclist taken to air ambulance in removals van speaks of ordeal (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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Buckhurst Hill cyclist taken to air ambulance in a removals van speaks of ordeal
A BADLY injured cyclist who lay for nearly two hours on a rain-sodden pavement before being ferried to an air ambulance in a furniture van is back on his feet.
Andrew Knight broke his hip when he fell from his bike at the junction of Church Hill and Rectory Lane, Debden, on Monday October 1.
"A guy stopped and helped me on to the pavement. I knew at that point that it wasn't good news because I couldn't walk," said Mr Knight, of Farm Way, Buckhurst Hill.
"I was just on my way to the doctor's, which was ironic."
A response car was at the scene in minutes and paramedics, realising the severity of the 36-year-old's injuries, called for an ambulance to take him to hospital.
"Unfortunately they weren't able to give me painkillers because I have a low resting heartbeat," said Mr Knight.
"I was there for nearly two hours. When the adrenaline stopped, it really, really started to hurt.
"It was frustrating for the paramedics. They were trying to make me comfortable and they could tell I was getting colder and colder.
"This ambulance man kept saying 'we've got so much to do, we can't even get you on the waiting list'.
"Eventually the paramedics said 'look, we're going to have to call an air ambulance. We can't put him in the back of a car'."
The closest place the East Anglia Air Ambulance helicopter could land was in Hillyfields, nearly a quarter of a mile away - and police were forced to call on a nearby furniture delivery man to drive their patient to the landing site.
Mr Knight, a librarian who is expecting his first child with his girlfriend in February, said: "It was the ambulance guy who said to me 'there's no way we can carry you, so we are just going to have to find a good samaritan'.
"I've been in a helicopter before - sight seeing in the Grand Canyon. This time was a bit different."
Mr Knight was flown to Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow, where surgeons operated immediately. He was discharged last week and is now walking with the help of crutches.
He said he had 'nothing but praise' for the police, paramedics and doctors who helped him, but added: "Everyone I spoke to that day said the same thing. They said there's a very small handful of vehicles available for the whole area.
"I'm sure there were two or three life-threatening emergencies. But my point is there should be enough ambulances to cover any kind of emergency because that's the point of having the NHS.
"If there were 5,000 people having heart attacks across Essex, I would have understood.
"You read about cuts and you think 'that's awful'. But when something happens to you, you suddenly realise how frustrated the staff are that they can't provide the care they want to provide."
He said he was concerned an elderly person would not have fared as well in the cold weather and rain.
"In different circumstances those delays could mean the difference between a fairly minor injury and something more serious," he added.
A spokesman for the East of England Ambulance Service said crews often commandeered vehicles to help transport patients to waiting helicopters.
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