Fundraiser after Damien’s arm saved following freak accident

Fundraiser after Damien’s arm saved following freak accident

5 December 2018

CARRYDUFF Building Supplies has raised over £16,000 for the Northern Ireland Air Ambulance.

The money was raised at the company’s charity breakfast to recognise the work of the organisation which earlier this year went to the assistance of one of its employees, Damien Lavery.

The 46 year-old Ballynahinch man was at work at the company’s Hillsborough Road base last March when he injured his right arm after it got trapped while working with heavy machinery.

Within nine minutes of the alarm being raised with the emergency services, the air ambulance touched down in Carryduff to help Damien who recently met up with the crew to personally thank them. In recognition of the life-saving work, his employers named the air ambulance as its nominated recipient at the annual charity breakfast.

March 20 began like any other for Damien but took a dramatic turn when he started his shift. His right arm became trapped above the elbow while working with heavy machinery, with the alarm quickly raised by one of his colleagues.

Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMs) paramedic Mike Patton was on duty when the call came through and quickly tasked the air ambulance to the accident with the crew joined at Carryduff business by the Fire and Rescue Service and Ambulance Service paramedics.

Even though the builders yard was clear of obstacles, the landing proved challenging for the air ambulance due to the significant amount of dust which was created as the helicopter came into land.

Fire and Rescue Service personnel worked to release Damien’s arm from the machinery and were assisted by one of his colleagues who was also a former part-time firefighter and played an important supporting role during the incident.

Throughout the entire ordeal, Damien remained conscious and remembers every moment right up until he was sedated — he believes his “mind blocked out the trauma”. 

Once anaesthetised by a doctor, Damien was transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital by road ambulance, accompanied by the HEMS team, where he then underwent crucial surgery to metal plates into his arm.

Damien’s road to recovery has been long, undergoing a further operation, overcoming two incidences of MRSA which required surgery, and a requirement for a Picc line to allow for regular antibiotic treatments by a team of dedicated rapid response nurses who called daily at his home over a period of 16 weeks.

He is also likely to require further surgery. However, thanks to the initial care of the HEMS team, the work of the Belfast Trust and follow-up surgery, Damien’s arm has been saved. 

“It has been a long journey to recovery so far, but I have been making great progress and exceeding the expectations of my medical team,” Damien confirmed.

“Every week there is further improvement and we are now hopeful that I will gain 95% mobility in my arm. I owe so much to the air ambulance HEMS team, the Ambulance Service and Royal Victoria Hospital for my initial care and treatment.”

Damien has also thanked staff at the Ulster Hospital and in particular Mr Harry Lewis, consultant plastic surgeon and consultant orthopaedic surgeon, Miss Denise Shirley.

He continued: “I firmly believe that it was their hard work and skill that has meant my story has had a more positive outcome. 

“Since my arm has been saved I have been able to return to work which is great as it was driving me mad sitting at home. The goal I am working towards now is to get as much usage back in my arm as I physically can.”

Damien said the air ambulance costs £5,500 per day to run so every penny really does go a long way to making sure this vital service can continue. 

He added: “I was delighted when Carryduff Building Supplies nominated the Air Ambulance to benefit from its annual fundraising breakfast. Being able to raise £16,000 on the day was a phenomenal achievement and is the highest amount that has ever been raised at this event. We were thrilled to be able to present this to the charity.”

Shirley Gilliland, who  owns the Carryduff firm along with her husband John added: “Damien has been part of the company for over four years and as a close team we were all gutted when the accident happened. 

“The speed of the response of the air ambulance and the critical interventions at the scene have clearly made a difference in Damien’s recovery. We’re so grateful to have him back on the team and doing well. 

“Whilst you take every precaution accidents can happen and we are now very much aware of the role that the air ambulance has to play in the local community, including the impact for industry related accidents.

“I would urge other companies to do what they can to support the service whether that is by corporate donation or fundraising.”