1. ITV Report

Medics used war trauma techniques to save Leah Washington's life

Medics who battled to keep teenager Leah Washington alive after the Alton Towers rollercoaster crash have told ITV News they used trauma techniques used in war zones to stem the loss of blood.

The 18-year-old, who had to have a leg amputated, lost more than a litre of blood and nearly died twice as emergency workers battled for more than four hours to free her from the wreckage.

Air ambulance paramedics and doctors called to the scene used tourniquets to stem the blood from her left leg which was horrifically injured by the safety bar.

Medics used tourniquets and emergency blood supplies to keep Leah Washington alive Credit: ITV News

Paramedic Tom Waters, one of the West Midlands emergency responders at the scene, told how he put two CAT (Combat Application Tourniquets) around Leah's legs to stem the blood flow.

He said: "This technique of treating trauma has come from the recent combat in Afghanistan, so unfortunately it's a sad story.

"But we have developed our skills and trauma ability due to recent wars which has now enhanced how we deliver trauma care to patients."

But doctors struggled to access her leg as she was in the front of the carriage which had collided as the track curved round.

This left the wreckage hanging 100ft in the air above a 20ft concrete pit supporting the rollercoaster's structure.

The hazardous structure meant rescue workers had to pick their way through the wreckage carefully so not to send parts of the carriage containing other injured passengers crashing to the ground.

The rescue operation lasted four hours involving four helicopter air ambulances, four land ambulances and the Hazardous Area Response Team comprising a 30 medics on the ground, along with fire crews.

Trauma doctor Ben Clark called for emergency blood supplies as he tried to carefully access Leah's injury.

He also gave her blood-clotting drugs as she bled from both the main artery and the centre of the bone itself.

In order to release Leah's leg, the gap was so tight I had to take off my helmet to squeeze through the gap in order to get down to where her leg was.

That little space and you're working 30 feet up in a harness, hanging from a carabiner. It was incredibly difficult.

– Dr Ben Clark

Leah was flown to the Royal Stoke University Hospital and her left leg was amputated soon after arrival on the afternoon of June 2.

They then placed her in an induced coma for 24 hours to help her body recover from the trauma.

When told of her injuries, she burst into tears and begged surgeons not to tell her.

Leah has now undergone hours of physiotherapy during her eight-week stay in hospital and been measured for a prosthetic leg.

But she was determined to return home by July 28, her 18th birthday.

She said that what the medics did for her was "amazing" and that she is now raising money for local air ambulance charities to thank them for saving her life.

It's amazing what they have done for me. I can't thank them enough. I wouldn't be here if not.

I'm raising money so they can run the air ambulance. If they didn't have the support and the charity, then they wouldn't be able to run it and save people's lives like they did for me.

– Leah Washington