Mark Dolman, a tree surgeon from Skegness in Lincolnshire, was rushed to the East Midlands Trauma Centre in December 2014 after an accident left him with severe facial injuries. Mark, 49, was working in woodland near the village of Willoughby when a large tree he was felling unexpectedly pivoted – striking him hard in the face and upper body, and knocking him backwards on to another tree that had already been felled.
Luckily, Mark was working with his son, Jack, who called the emergency services straightaway. When Jack described his father’s injuries over the phone, the 999 operator decided to scramble the air ambulance as it was clear that Mark needed urgent treatment at the East Midlands Major Trauma Centre at Nottingham’s QMC.
Within minutes, paramedics from both road and air ambulances arrived on the scene, having carried their medical equipment through the woods to Mark’s location. After his condition was stabilised and he’d had a shot of morphine for the pain, a dazed Mark was loaded into Jack’s truck and driven the short distance to the waiting air ambulance.
‘I can’t remember much about the journey to QMC or arriving in Resus,’ says Mark. ‘Although I do recall taking an interest in the helicopter as I’m an ex Survival Rescue Officer with the RAF and have flown in similar aircraft! I was dipping in and out of awareness in Resus and have a vague memory of being wheeled off to the CT scanner for my injuries to be assessed.’
The CT scan revealed the true extent of Mark’s complex facial injuries, which included a number of fractures to his jaw and a long crack in the bone which ran from ear to ear along the length of his jaw. Mark’s sternum and some of his ribs were also broken, and he had a hairline fracture in one of his vertebrae.
Clinicians in the Emergency Department cleaned up Mark’s injuries and stitched his split lip before sending him up to the Major Trauma Unit at Ward C30, where he spent the night. The next day, Mark was taken into theatre where an expert maxillofacial surgeon tackled the complex task of repairing his shattered jaw bone.
‘My jaw was wired together in several places and the whole lot secured by a metal dental frame that went all the way around my teeth – it was like a stiff gum shield made from rigid, twisted wires and held in place with more wires between the teeth,’ says Mark. ‘Considering the state my jaw was in, the surgeon did a fantastic job of putting everything back together in the right place. In fact, I can’t fault any of the care I received at QMC or from the paramedics.’
After the operation, Mark spent another night on C30 before being discharged. In the weeks after his accident, Mark attended several outpatient appointments at QMC and his local dental surgery, and the dental frame has now been removed. He’s now back at work and awaiting an orthodontic assessment to look at fully realigning his jaw.
Adds Mark: ‘In a job like mine, accidents at work happen – and you never know when you might need the air ambulance. As a former Survival Rescue Officer, I fully understand the need for an onsite helipad at QMC and the valuable difference it will make to patients with life-threatening injuries. I’m pleased to be supporting the Saving Lives Helipad Appeal and look forward to the new helipad being built so the amazing team at the East Midlands Major Trauma Centre can save even more lives.’