Valentine’s Day was bittersweet for cyclist Pat McGill this year, after he nearly died in an accident on Cambewarra Mountain on February 14, 2016.
Left critically injured after his bicycle collided with a car, the South Coast resident said he owes his life to the NSW Ambulance land – and air – crews who rescued him.
On Sunday he was able to thank two of his saviours in person, when he met up with NSW Ambulance rescue helicopter doctor Kent Robinson and paramedic Wayne Cannon at the Albion Park Rail base.
‘’I’m lucky to be alive, and I have the road crew from Bomaderry station as well as the air crew to thank for that,’’ Mr McGill said. ‘’I’ve now been able to give thanks in person to all of them, and it was great to meet with Kent and Wayne to show them how far I’ve come since that day.
‘’It’s been a hell of a year, and I’m still recovering, but I’m alive thanks to people like these that often risk their own lives to save others.’’
The 46-year-old father-of-two suffered significant head, chest and spine injuries in the accident. The paramedics worked for an hour-and-a-half to stabilise him on the side of the mountain before he was able to be airlifted to St George Hospital for emergency surgery.
‘’I had a bleed on the brain, fractured neck, a bruised heart, broken ribs, sternum and wrist,’’ he said.
‘’I broke my spine in two places and had a crush to the spinal cord and had to undergo a six-hour operation to relieve the pressure.
‘’My heart stopped on the operating table and they had to roll me over and get me going again.’’
He spent several weeks in hospital, before he was transferred to Berry Hospital for rehabilitation. A staph infection, and further surgery, have slowed his recovery but he’s getting stronger each day.
‘’This Valentine’s Day is pretty emotional – but it also shows how far I’ve come.’’
His wife Geraldine took to social media this week, with a heartfelt post. ‘’Someone was watching over us as we believe we had the best that day from road ambulance, air ambulance, emergency staff, surgeons, ICU staff, nurses and more,’’ she wrote.
‘’We thank you for drawing on your years of experience, going on your gut feeling, believing in your ability and taking chances even on the side of a mountain.’’
Dr Robinson said it wasn’t often the crew got to catch up with those they assisted in emergency situations.
‘’We had to put Pat in an induced medical coma and give him a blood transfusion at the scene – it was very touch and go as to whether he’d make it,’’ he said. ‘’To see someone so critically unwell, and then to see them walk through the door looking so well was just fantastic.’’