Dad who got chainsaw stuck in his chest thanks North West Air Ambulance for saving his life

  • Video report by Granada Reports journalist Claire Hannah

A dad of three who lost 60% of the blood in his body after a chainsaw got stuck in his chest has thanked the North West Air Ambulance charity for saving his life.

Robert Gardner was struck with the machinery during a freak accident as he tried to tidy up his home in Preston on Jubilee weekend to prepare for a party.

As he began using the new chainsaw to cut a pile of logs that needed clearing in his garden it bounced back at him, embedding itself in his chest.

"My left arm went numb," he said. "I knew if I pushed it one way it would go in deeper to my shoulder, but if I pushed it the other, it would cut me further.

"I started to fight to get it off me and it got caught in my t-shirt, so I called my wife Karen for help."

Robert spent six days in Blackpool's Intensive Care Unit. Credit: ITV News

Karen, who was on the phone inside the home in Farrington Moss, said she immediately knew something had gone wrong.

Karen said: "I was on the phone to my mum and I heard Rob shouting me. He's always pottering around in the garden but this was a different shout to his usual.

"He came from the side of the shed and walked around and I could see the chainsaw. He was trying to push it away from his body and then he just lay down on the floor.

"I hung up on my mum and ran to him. There was a lot of blood flowing out everywhere, but Robert was quite calm, but we both knew it was serious."

Karen tried to stop the bleeding using a dust sheet from the shed pressing onto Rob's wound while speaking to 999 call handlers.

They both thought Robert would not make it, so as they waited for emergency services to arrive, they told each other they loved each other. Paramedics arrived after 13 minutes and due to the severity of Rob's injuries, North West Air Ambulance was requested immediately - which landed in a field at the bottom of the garden.

One of the North West's three Air Ambulances. Credit: ITV News

Consultant Doctor Eimhear Quinn and Critical Care Paramedic Adam Wager were the team on board.

Eimhear said: "As soon as we saw him, we knew how poorly he was, so we knew we had to get started straight away."

The North West Air Ambulance Charity's enhanced pre-hospital care teams carry eight units of blood on board to every job.

It was used to give Robert an immediate transfusion at the scene, as he had lost 60% of the blood from his body.

Eimhear and Adam maintained the blood flow and pressure to his heart and travelled with him in a land ambulance to Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

Robert and Karen in hospital before he was discharged to go home. Credit: Family photo

Without this treatment at the scene, Robert would have died before he arrived at hospital.

After six days in Blackpool's Intensive Care Unit, Robert moved to Wythenshawe Hospital for surgery to treat injuries to his arm, which was at risk of being amputated.

Robert was discharged from hospital and returned home on 30 June, and the following day, he and Karen celebrated their 16th wedding anniversary.

Robert has since visited Eimhear and Adam at the North West Air Ambulance Charity base to say thank you.

One of the three North West Air Ambulances at its base at Barton Airfield. Credit: ITV News

It was the first time they have met since their first meeting in his garden, and Robert and his whole family said it was a very emotional day.

Robert said: "I think doctors give you time... they've given me time.

"Time to watch my kids grow up, time to be with my wife. They're giving me time to grow a bit older and appreciate life a little bit more, and enjoy it.

"The intervention and treatment from the North West Air Ambulance Charity was the pinnacle point for me.

"They gave me the time to get to the hospital. I've been very lucky - I feel like a very lucky man, and Eimhear and Adam are incredible people, they all are."

Robert and Karen also sent Eimhear and Adam keyring keepsakes as a thank you, which they both now keep in their pockets.

A "mini Adam and Eimhear" keepsake key rings as a thank you. Credit: ITV News

Eimhear joked "It's great for me because for the first time ever, I'm the same height as Adam.

"But seriously, it's lovely to get a thank you, but completely unnecessary, as it's our job.

"I didn't think Robert would survive the journey in the ambulance, never mind being back home with his family less than a month later, and that is why we love what we do."

The North West Air Ambulance Charity receives no NHS or government funding and relies solely on donations to provide services to patients across the North West.

There are three Air Ambulances in the North West, and it costs £9 million a year to keep them running.

Each time an Air Ambulance is called out, it costs between £3,500 and £5,000.

The blood on board scheme has been running since 2019 and costs £60,000 a year.

Consultant Anaesthetist Dr Clint Jones said: "Transfusing warm blood and clotting factors to bleeding patients before they arrive in hospital not only buys them time, but also means they arrive at hospital in an improved condition, so have a better chance of recovery.

"Without the blood on board, Robert undoubtedly would not have survived."

Robert and his family meet the medics and pilot who saved his life. Credit: ITV News

To find out more about the work of the North West Air Ambulance Charity, you can follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The charity is also on Tik Tok, which was launched to coincide with Air Ambulance Week.