Welshpool | 8 Feb 2012
A Corwen hotelier doesn’t remember much about the road traffic collision that nearly claimed his life, but he will never forget the paramedic who helped pull him back from the brink.
David Cowan, who runs Bron Y Graig hotel, was reunited this week with paramedic Gareth Williams…the man he says gave him a fighting chance of survival following the collision on the A5104 near Corwen.
He was on his way home from lunch with his daughter in Chester last April when a vehicle came towards him on the wrong side of the road on a blind bend at speed and collided with him head on. The driver of the other vehicle was jailed for a year in December after admitting dangerous driving and driving under the influence of alcohol.
Gareth, who lives in Holywell and is now a full time air paramedic at the Mid Wales Air Ambulance base in Welshpool, arrived at the scene with colleague, emergency medical technician Aled Jones.
“We saw two vehicles both with severe front end damage which indicated a high speed frontal collision. Mr Cowan was sat in his driver’s seat with his legs outside of the vehicle. I could see he had a very serious leg injury and he looked very pale and agitated with blueing to his lips,” said Gareth.
The paramedic, who is also team manager for Denbigh Community First Responders, immediately gave David oxygen and assessed his circulation: “His pulse was rapid and weak and his breathing was rapid and shallow. His head had hit the windscreen and he had an open fracture to his right leg.”
The paramedic dressed the patient’s wounds and moved David onto a spinal board and into the ambulance.
“Mr Cowan kept saying he couldn’t breathe, his breathing was getting shallower and his colour worse despite being on oxygen. I listened to his chest with a stethoscope and found no breath sounds on his right hand side and I percussed his chest which sounded loud and hollow, a sign of a collapsed lung.
With pressure building up in the space around David’s lungs causing each breath to be a struggle and his heart to work less efficiently, Gareth worked quickly to make sure the hotelier could survive the trip to hospital.
Gareth said: “At this point I could see Mr Cowan’s life was in serious danger of slipping away. I inserted a large cannula into the upper chest, into the chest cavity to allow the pressure to escape and allow the lungs and heart to expand and work. If we hadn’t been able to do this, it would have been touch and go as to whether David made the journey to hospital.”
David was rushed by Gareth and Alun to the Maelor where A&E staff were able to re inflate his collapsed lung easing the pressure off his vital organs.
He had also suffered a ruptured artery, a broken femur and open fracture, as well as lacerations to his head and an injury to his nose. A Vascular surgeon from Bangor was able to stem the bleeding from the artery and save his leg.
On meeting Gareth, the hotelier explained he couldn’t remember the incident, even getting into the car at Chester, but recalled saying to the paramedic that he couldn’t breathe while he was still in the car.
Listening to how Gareth pulled him back from the brink, David said he was ‘so thankful’ to the paramedic and Alun for what they both did for him back in April.
He added: “I am so grateful to Gareth, he is a star, I do still have my problems but by God, thanks to him I am still here. I am so grateful I had the chance to meet him, if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be here, I owe my life to Gareth and also to the surgeons who operated on me after the accident.”