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Page last updated at 11:33 GMT, Tuesday, 22 September 2009 12:33 UK
Helicopter heroes saved my life

KarlHansell
By Karl Hansell
BBC York & North Yorkshire contributor

Yorkshire Air Ambulance
Karl's memories of his crash were jogged by the Helicopter Heroes team

I knew commuting to a college course in Darlington from Scarborough would be exhausting, leaving at 6.30am everyday and not returning until seven in the evening.

But, it never crossed my mind that I could be involved in a life-threatening accident that, due to a broken nerve in my right shoulder, may leave me paralysed in that arm for life.

Exactly one month into the course, 1 October 2008, I clambered into my car, placing my weekend bag alongside a pile of newspapers and textbooks on the back seat and turning on the stereo, started another journey.

The next thing I remember is waking up in intensive care surrounded by my close family. I had a shattered right shoulder, serious internal bleeding, deep gashes in my arm and chest, and a bruise stretching from under my right armpit to my hip.

I was told I was lucky to be alive.

KarlHansell
I began to panic, a deep vomit-inducing fear the like of which I have never experienced, or hope to again
Karl Hansell

The memories of what happened that morning have only just began to return, almost three months after the event, jogged by an interview for the BBC TV series, Helicopter Heroes.

The team from the BBC programme visited me along with the Yorkshire Air Ambulance crew who transported me to James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough.

I still have no idea what caused the accident, but witnesses claimed I veered off the road, perhaps hitting a patch of oil or clipping the grass verge on the inside of the bend.

My car smashed into a metal gate and flipped through the air, causing a car on the other side of the road to accelerate to avoid me 'landing' on them.

I lay upside down in my car, strapped into place by my seatbelt, with the dashboard and steering wheel at an awkward angle to my legs. Somehow I stayed calm, perhaps due to the fact that I could hear people talking to me, reassuring me that things would be OK, and that I was safe.

I was trapped in the car for almost an hour, and my body temperature dropped significantly through that time.

Firemen on the scene decided the only way to get me out of the car was to cut me out, using huge metal teeth to tear the car from around me.

Each crunch of the jaws sent a wave of agony through my body and I began to panic, a deep vomit-inducing fear the like of which I have never experienced, or hope to again.

Someone touched me on the hand and said they needed me to calm down, so I swallowed the fear and remembered once again that I was in safe hands.

I had crashed on the A171, shortly after a turn known as Coquet Nook. A seemingly innocuous stretch of road, but one that a police officer who visited me in the hospital told me was an accident black-spot. Mine was the third crash in that small area that month.

Driving home from an operation in Middlesbrough last week I passed the spot where my accident happened, and a hundred yards down the road we saw wreaths of flowers. Someone had not been quite so lucky as I was.




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