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Page last updated at 12:23 GMT, Sunday, 10 January 2010
Falling victim to ice and snow in Devon

By Julie Fisher
BBC Radio Devon

Nurse stitches injury at Cumberland Centre Plymouth
The NHS is trying to encourage patients to head for the centre instead of Derriford

Patients with ice-related injuries in Plymouth are being told to head to the Cumberland Centre in Devonport for help instead.

BBC Radio Devon's Julie Fisher spent a morning on the frontline with staff and patients.

When college student William Davies set off from home on Friday morning he was wearing a pristine checked shirt.

As I peek reluctantly between my fingers at the gaping wound in his arm - in his words - "there's a touch of the incredible hulk" about him now.

Nurses had no choice but to cut off the sleeve to get to the deep, deep cut he'd written off as just a bruise after falling in the ice.

He changed his mind when blood started pooling around him.

"I'm just glad the Cumberland Centre is around the corner from my course at King's Road.

"As soon as I saw the blood, I instantly thought that's where I'll go, I've got no idea what cut it, I must have fallen on something sharp.

"I've been here before - they're very good and very quick. A pint of blood wouldn't go amiss now!"

With a lot of anaesthetic the nurses stitched William up as good as new.

Nurses at Cumberland Centre Plymouth
The team can deal with fractures, cuts, burns and head injuries

Behind the curtains of cubicle one there's another victim of the icy weather. When you take a tumble at the age of 81, you can't take any chances.

Bernard Evans from Torpoint hit the deck getting his car out of the garage.

"I slipped over, hurt my bum and bent my finger right back. I think I've broken it."

Bernard's x-ray revealed he'd chipped the bone and the fragment was floating round. His fingers have been taped firmly together and he's got to come back for more assessments.

His wife Jo is full of praise for the staff: "When we came in I expected big queues but there were only two people ahead of us. We were flabbergasted at being seen so soon."

Nova Norrie is the clinical manager of the unit today and in the blink of an eye she can change into uniform and take over as a nurse practitioner.

"We're trained as emergency nurse practitioners and can treat feet, ankles, stitch, glue and x-ray.

"We're limited to below the shoulder and below the knee injuries.

"Numbers of injuries have really increased in the last month. It's mostly breaks and sprains and head injuries that we've seen. Sometimes people fall in the ice and hurt their ankle, then bang their head on the pavement as well.

"We're all geared up with staff for cover in the icy weather. One of the girls lives out in the wilds and her husband will bring her in in the Land Rover - we will get that nurse on duty."

Two more ice injuries followed rapidly.

The team of three nurse practitioners and three healthcare assistants can deal with fractures, cuts, burns and head injuries.

Since the icy weather started, the NHS is trying to encourage patients in the area to head for the centre instead of A&E at Derriford as the wait will be much shorter and casualty can be left to deal with more major incidents like car crashes.

Next thing I knew I'd gouged a big wound in my thumb
Paul Netherey

The Cumberland Centre's doors are open from 8am till 9pm and you can just walk in without an appointment.

A frightening sounding accident with a Stanley knife has left Paul Netherey with a horrible injury to his right thumb.

He works re-fitting caravans and motorhomes at Lee Mill and slipped while cutting a sheet of plastic.

"I thought to myself, I've just changed the blade on this knife, I shouldn't be pulling it towards myself as I cut this - next thing I knew I'd gouged a big wound in my thumb."

The nurses were having trouble stopping the bleeding but the air of calm at the Cumberland Centre left Paul with total faith in the team. A few stitches later and he was ready for the off.

While I was at the unit the team was faced with four fractures caused by the icy conditions, 10 wounds, a head injury as well as a variety of other conditions - all in just a few hours.

Remember Bernard with his bang on the bottom and a fractured finger?

As he left for home with his strapped-up hand he had this to say:

"What a service, straight through. Thank you."

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