Havant grandmother 'would be dead' if not for air ambulance who saved her from horror car crash

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Kerry Swain

A grandmother whose car aquaplaned on the M3 and crashed into a ditch says she would be dead if it weren't for air ambulance crews.

Gwen Rickman now wants to raise awareness of the life-saving work of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance, after she was airlifted to Winchester hospital when paramedics couldn't reach her by road.

She had driven over a large pool of surface water and came off the road, sliding 20 feet down an embankment.

She suffered multiple fractures, an horrific injury to her arm, and was bleeding to death.

Gwen Rickman's car left the M3 and crashed down a 20ft ditch.

Ms Rickman says emergency services did not expect her to survive.

She said: "I had an unrecordable blood pressure at the scene, they had to give me something to stop me bleeding. They had to give me blood at the scene, so I know without them I wouldn't be here.

"The police have told me I should get a lottery ticket...nobody expected me to live."

Gwen was one of 1,570 people rescued by Hampshire and the Isle of Wight Air Ambulance in 2021.

The service was under great pressure last year, not only dealing with callouts, but dealing with staff shortages brought on by the pandemic.

Nigel Harley, a paramedic, said: "The main challenges in 2021 were dealing with Covid, treating patients in very uncomfortable PPE, managing absences of staff, and making sure we were filling in the vacancies due to short notice sickness."

The highest number of missions were to cardiac arrests, followed by medical emergencies, (such as strokes), road traffic collisions, and falls from height. Other incidents included rail and sporting incidents, drownings, assaults and stabbings.

Whatever the challenges facing the service, Nigel Harley says it is stories like Gwen's that is the reason they all come to work.

He said: "We want to be there for the patients that need us most. We want to be there for the ones that are critically ill, getting there at the right time for these patients to save their lives, and making meaningful interventions."

It has been fifteen years since the air ambulance first launched, and more than 10,000 patients have been helped.

Gwen said: "I knew they did a good job but I didn't realise how good.

"I know that without them, my life would have ended that day."