Suffolk: A140 crash victim reunited with SARS and RAF heroes who saved his life

TRAPPED in his car after it got lodged underneath a lorry in a horror crash, Brian Baker was at death’s door choking on his own blood.

That was 12 years ago.

Today thanks to the life-saving work of dedicated medics at Suffolk Accident Rescue Service (SARS) Mr Baker, of Kensington Road, Ipswich, is looking forward to his 70th birthday this weekend.

And to mark the milestone he never thought he would reach, Mr Baker’s wife Vera surprised him with a visit to Wattisham Airfield yesterday, to reunite him with members of the life-saving crew who rushed to his aid on August 25, 2000.

It was at 6.42am on that day that Dr Andy Mason, of SARS, received a call requesting his attendance at the scene of a five-vehicle crash on the A140, close to the Coddenham turning.

Recalling the scene, Dr Mason told the Star: “Brian’s vehicle was stuck underneath the lorry when I got there.

“He was there for about an hour while firefighters worked to free him. He had serious head and facial injuries and his airway was threatened – he was choking on his own blood.”

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Part of the SARS team since 1974, Dr Mason, a former GP, then took the decision to perform a pioneering treatment to clear Mr Baker’s airway.

It was the first time the treatment had ever been used on a patient... anywhere in the world.

Known as PALM – which stands for pharmacologically-assisted laryngeal mask placement – the procedure has this year been recognised nationally as a life-saving treatment in pre-hospital care.

Dr Mason explained: “The treatment involves giving the patient a strong sedative drug intravenously so you can insert a balloon like device into the airway to blow it up.

“It then seals against the back of the voice box preventing any blood from above obstructing the airway.

“It allows you to get a conventional tube into the trachea to help the patient breathe.”

Once he had been stabilised an RAF crew from Wattisham Airfield airlifted Mr Baker to Addenbrooke’s Hospital where neurological surgeons were waiting to treat him.

Remember nothing of the crash, Mr Baker praised the “heroes” he credits with saving his life.

“The odds were really stacked up against me, no one expected me to make it to hospital alive, let alone survive,” he said. “Dr Andy Mason and the SARS team, the RAF crew aboard the Sea King helicopter and the staff at Addenbrooke’s Hospital saved my life.

“Without them I would not be here today.

“I was the first person Dr Mason did this procedure [PALM] on, without SARS I would not be looking forward to my 70th birthday and my wife and I would not be looking forward to our golden wedding next year.

“I have always wanted to see the helicopter because I don’t remember it the first time.

“Every time I see a Sea King overhead I call them my taxi to Addenbrooke’s. It has been a really nice chance to say thank you.”

Backing SARS Mr Baker added: “I would not be alive were it not for Dr Mason and SARS, please think and donate to them – you never know when you might need their help.”

n Have you been helped by SARS? Write to health reporter Lizzie Parry at Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail lizzie.parry@archant.co.uk

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