Cyclist saved by Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance 'grateful' as charity marks 15 years

  • ITV News Meridian's Mark McQuillan met with Claire Danson on the charity's anniversary

A cyclist who collided with a tractor in Hook has said she wouldn't be alive without the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance.

The team provided specialist treatment before flying her to hospital.

Claire Danson says she will be forever grateful for the care she received and is now setting her sights on competing at the next Paralympics.

Claire was hoping to become a professional triathlete before the life-changing moment three years ago.

Claire Danson was a keen triathlete before the collision. Credit: Claire Danson

She collided with a tractor, whilst riding her bike, leaving her with multiple serious injuries.

Emergency treatment was provided by Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance.

Claire said: "They could give me treatment that the land ambulance can't do so they transfuse me whilst we were in the air and actually it was quite apparent that, in my case, getting me to the correct hospital as quickly as possible was very important.

"I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for having the air ambulance. I'm certain of that.

"I think it's a large part of the time issue. It's just so much quicker than any other transport."

The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance has been in service for 15 years. Credit: Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance

Claire's rescue is one of more than 15,000 since the service was set up 15 years ago.

Paramedics are at the forefront of the operation, rescuing members of the public most days.

Nigel Harley said: "It could be two incidents a day, it could be five and all these incidents require critical care intervention which means us bringing life-saving interventions such as emergency blood, a general anaesthetic, some advanced pain killers or advanced life support to patients in the community so we're essentially bringing the hospital to the roadside to patients."

Each rescue that is carried out by the air ambulance costs more than £3,000, and their work is continuing to take place amid a challenging financial backdrop.

The organisation relies on donations, which are slightly down as the cost of living crisis takes hold.

Richard Corbett CEO, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance said: "We've seen a slight drop off in regular donors, but very slight, but for us it's important that we keep in contact with those people because when things get better.

"At the moment we want to be able to tell the story of what we do and at a later stage maybe people will be able to support us financially as well."

Claire hopes to pursue hand cycling and eventually become a para athlete. Credit: Claire Danson

Claire said: "When I was on a ventilator in hospital and couldn't talk we use the letterboard to spell out words and, actually, the first word I spelt out was 'sorry' and the second word was 'para athlete'.

"Actually I've found hand cycling is something I particularly love and particularly enjoy and is something actually I've found I'm quite good at and the aim would be to make a Paralympics if I can."

Claire is one of many people over the past 15 years who can now focus on the future, all made possible by the dedication and expertise of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance.